Defense spending bill tops $460B

After less than 10 minutes of debate, the House passed a massive $460.3 billion defense spending bill for fiscal 2008 that contains a resolution to continue funding the government through Dec. 14.

The bill, in the form of a conference report, addresses many problems inside the Defense Department, including contract accountability.

The legislation would provide funding for additional civilian inspector general employees to bring more oversight to defense contract services.

Rep. John Murtha (D-Pa.), chairman of the House Appropriations Committee's Defense Subcommittee, said DOD's spending has grown significantly but accountability has not kept pace. As a result, cost overruns plague the contracting system, he said.

The conference of House and Senate members agreed.

"Over the past several years, DOD has increasingly relied on private-sector contractors, but it has not provided sufficient management oversight of its contractors," the report states.

The report would boost funding for staffing in several of DOD's oversight offices. It would give the IG $24 million in additional funding for workers. Similarly, the Defense Contract Management Agency would get $14 million and the Defense Contract Audit Agency $10 million, all of which goes to increasing the size of their workforces.

The report also encourages DOD to use the General Services Administration's acquisition services more often. Congress wants to know how DOD can use GSA to reduce its contracting costs and reliance on contractors for inherently governmental work.

Congress' encouragement comes after the DOD IG said defense officials wasted $607,000 by using GSA to place 91 orders on an Air Force task-order contract known as Network-Centric Solutions.

The continuing resolution to keep the government running through Dec. 14 was needed because the current resolution expires Nov. 16. The resolution will keep the government running at fiscal 2007 spending levels.

The House passed the spending bill 400-15.

The Senate still must pass the conference report before it goes to President Bush.

Matthew Weigelt writes for Federal Computer Week, an 1105 Government Information Group publication.

About the Author

Matthew Weigelt is a freelance journalist who writes about acquisition and procurement.

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