Amendment would require competition on Iraq contracts

New contracts for rebuilding Iraq would have to be awarded through full and open competition, according to an amendment lawmakers said they plan to add to an upcoming supplemental appropriations bill for U.S. post-war activities in Iraq.

The amendment says that contracts can be awarded without full and open competitive bidding only if the awarding agency justifies a sole-source or limited-bid award. Sens. Susan Collins, R-Maine, and Ron Wyden, D-Ore., said today they will offer the language to the bill.

"Our amendment is about accountability. It is about ensuring fairness and openness when contracts are made to rebuild a country that is in need of basic infrastructure and services," said Collins, chairwoman of the Senate Governmental Affairs Committee.

In recent months, Collins, Wyden and other lawmakers have questioned the awarding of some reconstruction contracts without full and open competition.

"It is time to let the sun shine on Iraq reconstruction contracts," said Wyden. "Congress must tie disclosure to the money so that the American people will know how their tax dollars are being spent."

The two lawmakers also introduced the Sunshine in Iraq Reconstruction Contracting Act of 2003, which would require public disclosure of documents that justify sole-source and limited-bid contracts. The amendment was included in the defense authorization bill that is being considered by a Senate-House conference committee.

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