Contracting reform bills make it through House

The House passed three contracting reform bills yesterday by voice vote. The bills, which would impose new regulations and restrictions on contractors, are:
  • The Close the Contractor Fraud Loophole Act, which closes an exemption in the Federal Acquisition Regulation that allows contractors performing government work outside the United States from complying with certain ethics standards.

"This loophole is so outrageous that once exposed in the light of day it was simply indefensible," said Rep. Peter Welch (D-Vt.), who introduced the bill April 3.

General Services Administration officials, who say the loophole was a mistake, are in the process of closing it through the regulatory process.
  • The Contractors and Federal Spending Accountability Act, which would require GSA to create a database that includes information on government contractors so contracting officers can better assess the companies' work with the government. The centralized database would more efficiently monitor the federal procurement system, said Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.), who introduced the measure. The bill also would improve and clarify the role of the Interagency Committee on Debarments and Suspension.
  • The Government Contractor Accountability Act, which would require certain contractors to reveal their top executives' salaries. The bill would affect privately held companies that receive more than $5 million in annual gross revenues from government contracts. They would have to certify with each of their bid proposals that the company received 80 percent or less of its annual gross revenue from the government or a statement disclosing the names and salaries of the chief executive officer, principal financial officer and the three most highly paid employees.

"My bill seeks one simple thing ? transparency," said Rep. Christopher Murphy (D-Conn.), who introduced it. "If there are people out there making millions off of government contracts, profiting off of this war, we should know about it."

Rep. Tom Davis (R-Va.), ranking member on the Oversight and Government Reform Committee, disagreed with the intent of the bills. He said they will do little to help the government get the best value on the goods and services it purchases. Davis has said such legislation would only deter competent contractors from doing business with the government.

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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