Budget bans disclosure of contractors' political contributions

[Editor's Note: This story was changed to correctly present the administration's intent of the provision. To read a new and updated version of this story, click here.] 

The Obama administration did not back off its efforts to require contractors to disclose political campaign contributions when they submit contract bids.

The idea first surfaced in April 2011, when the  administration began circulating a draft executive order that would have directed agencies to gather information from companies about their political contributions. The administration had hoped such transparency would prevent contributions from influencing contract decisions.

But in the administration's 2013 budget proposal, officials does not want to  forbid agencies from collecting such information.

The plan had sparked strong objections on Capitol Hill, leading to the introduction of several bills as well as congressional hearings.

During one hearing in May, senators warned Dan Gordon, then administrator of the Office of Federal Procurement Policy, of the consequences of such a rule. Gordon would not comment on the proposal at the hearing because it was only in draft form. However, he said evaluations of companies’ bids should be objective and should not be influenced by who or what a bidder supports. And if a company believes its bid was unfairly evaluated, he said the firm have recourse by filing a bid protest.

Congress has already blocked the controversial proposal though. With support among both Republicans and Democrats, the fiscal 2012 National Defense Authorization Act included a provision that blocks the disclosures with bids. President Barack Obama signed the bill into law in January.

About the Author

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

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