Budget encourages contractors' political contribution disclosures

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

FCW's orginal story incorrectly reported that the administration wanted to ban them, a mistake on our part. In fact, the opposite is true.

The idea for requiring the disclosures 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.

The plan had sparked strong objections on Capitol Hill, leading to the introduction of several bills to block it, as well as congressional hearings. But in the administration's 2013 budget proposal, officials do not want to forbid agencies from collecting such information.

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 that bill into law in January.

About the Author

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

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