Collins presses OFPP nom on politics in contracting

Joe Jordan, nominee to be the senior most procurement policy-maker, wouldn’t tell senators May 9 that he would oppose an executive order requiring companies to disclose political contributions when bidding on contracts, although he said contributions should not be a part of procurement.

Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine), ranking member of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee and procurement expert, said she wasn’t reassured by Jordan’s written response to her question about objecting to a possible order from the White House. So she asked him again during Jordan's confirmation hearing to be the administrator of the Office of Federal Procurement Policy.

“What I’m seeking from you today is a very clear statement that you will oppose any such efforts to require federal agencies to collect political contribution information from government contractors,” Collins told Jordan.

Jordan said political contribution information has no place in federal procurement.

“If asked for my counsel by the president who issues executive orders, I would say that …political influence cannot play a role in the acquisition process. And I would say that very clearly and I would advocate on that behalf very strongly,” Jordan said.

However, if the president were to issue an executive order requiring such disclosures, “it’s hard to comment on a hypothetical,” he said.

Collins said it’s not a hypothetical.

The White House circulated a draft executive order in 2011 about the proposed policy. It would require contractors to submit information on contributions to federal candidates or political parties. They would also need to report on money given to a third party that will make election advertisements.

The draft order caused a split in Congress. Many members disagreed with the order's intent, but other lawmakers have written to President Barack Obama to encourage his policy.

Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.), committee chairman, agreed with Collins. “I hope the executive order doesn’t see the light of day, and I hope you’ll be effective in your advocacy in the White House,” Lieberman said.

Jordan needs to be approved by the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee before moving onto a full Senate confirmation vote. Lieberman said the committee may consider Jordan’s nomination at a meeting next week.

About the Author

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

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