Contracting continues to catch Congress' eye

A new bill from Sen. Byron Dorgan (D-N.D.) attacks bad government contracting practices and proposes sweeping reforms.

The legislation (S. 606) aims to stop what Dorgan called “outrageous rip-offs of the American taxpayer,” including huge no-bid contracts and little accountability.

Specifically, the bill would ban awards of sole-source, monopoly contracts of more than $100 million and require competition for multiple-award contracts greater than $1 million.

The bill would restore a rule prohibiting the awarding of contracts to companies with a pattern of breaking the law in performance of government contracts. It would debar contractors that overcharge the government and fail to abide by the regulations. Moreover, the Federal Procurement Data System would post a company’s penalties and fines and information on sole-source contracts of more than $2 million.

The bill also would stop unqualified political appointees from holding government positions relating to contracting and public safety. The bill would require that nominees for such posts have relevant professional qualifications for the job.

It also would protect federal employees who point out abuses. Similar whistle-blower bills have been introduced in the House.

“Too often, officials they should have been able to count on have been asleep at the switch,” Dorgan said in a statement, adding that the bill is a wake-up call.

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