Statement by Senator Collins on the Introduction of the “Sunshine in Iraq Reconstruction Contracting Act of 2003

I am pleased to join Senators Wyden and Clinton in introducing this legislation. Our bill requires the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and other federal agencies to make public their justification for any decision to waive normal requirements for open and fully competitive bidding. And this requirement would apply to existing USAID contracts recently exempted from full competition.

A tremendous amount of money will be spent on contracts to rebuild Iraq. Fair and full competition would ensure the best value for American taxpayers. I am concerned that, right off the bat, U.S. Agency for International Development is limiting competition on some initial contracts. There may be a viable reason for that approach. But the agency has not come forward with its rationale. As a result, we are introducing legislation to pull back the curtain that obscures the contracting process, including how an agency selects the companies that will be invited to bid. Our bill requires that basic information regarding the contracting process be disclosed in a timely fashion.