More Contracting Oversight On Capitol Hill


The rush to improve oversight continues.

Sen. Joe Lieberman, chairman of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee just announced an ad hoc subcommittee to oversee federal contracting.

"Management of federal contracts is one of the greatest operational challenges facing the federal government," Lieberman (I-Conn.) said in a statement. "Spending on federal contracts rose to an astounding $532 billion last year. And for years the Government Accountability Office has listed government contracting on its list of programs at high risk of waste, fraud, abuse, mismanagement, or in need of comprehensive reform. This is a problem area that needs as much oversight as we can possibly muster."

Heading the new subcommittee will be Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.), who was among those behind the creation last year of the Commission on Wartime Contracting to examine systemic problems related to the war in Iraq, the reliance on private security forces and other contracting issues.

By the way, take note of that number: $532 billion. Astounding indeed. And that's just the base. With stimulus around the corner, hold on to your horses. Government spending is going up still higher, and fast.

By Robert O'Harrow |  January 30, 2009; 8:00 AM ET Contract workers
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Unfortunately, the prospect of Congressional oversight improving procurement practices is a farce. The examples of sneaking money in for pet projects, or forcing unneeded and unwanted programs into the budget, or buckling under to special interests, lobbyist, and corporations all tell procurement that real integrity, courage, and competence are not only not welcome, but to be punished. Note the traditional packing of the Whistleblower protection with persons to aid and abet the harassment of those who expose corruption. Words are meaningless. The actions of our leadership will continue the corruption that secretly pervades our government procurement. Of course, my experience is limited to decades of actual procurement work in a number of agencies with the scars to prove that competence and integrity are punishable offenses in government procurement. Not to worry because the press follows the example of the leadership by talking about corruption, but not having the courage to really expose what is provably going on.

Posted by: SavetheChildren1 | January 30, 2009 11:47 AM

If anyone is going to stop "sneaking money in for pet projects" it would be Sen. Claire McCaskill. She has been very outspoken on earmarks. She is one of two members of Congress that has never requested an earmark. She pointed out one of Pelosi's earmarks.

Sen McCaskill was Missouri's State Auditor and the first woman Prosecuting Attorney in Kansas City.

She frequently uses the term "follow the money" to find the source of a problem.

Posted by: JimWalsh1 | January 31, 2009 7:10 PM

Talk is cheap and forming an ad hoc committee on the fly will be considered "for show". I am consistently amazed by the inability of the government to perform at a level of transparency as local government...as we can go to local meetings and complain, but that is not available in the USGov.

An adhoc committee indicates that senators have time "to spare". If they report EACH finding - not just a select few, it would go a long ways on fulfilling the newest mantra of "transparency"...I am not holding my breath!

Posted by: axf56730 | February 2, 2009 9:25 AM

Is the Post going to assign a reporter to dog every move of this adhoc committee? People will get behind a reform movement if they know what is going on. Many of us have sensed major corruption and waste throughout the war years, but we need specifics.

Posted by: CVal | February 3, 2009 9:59 AM

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