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The Cunningham effect

As if there haven't been enough procurement issues this year, could Rep. Randy "Duke" Cunningham's resignation have a ripple on procurement rules?

Here is how Slate.com's Today's Papers recounts the story this morning:

The Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, and USA Today all lead with Republican Rep. Randy "Duke" Cunningham resigning and announcing that he's guilty of taking bribes in return for defense contracts. "The truth is, I broke the law, concealed my conduct and disgraced my office," said Cunningham...

In return for nailing down defense deals, Cunningham was given hundreds of thousands of dollars, furniture, rugs, use of a yacht, and to complete the cliché, a Rolls Royce. He faces 10 years in prison but probably won't get hit with that much time in pokey since he's promised to sing to prosecutors.

The papers don't really explain what happened to the Pentagon contracts Cunningham rigged. And TP sees only a WP editorial raising a related issue: How exactly does the appropriations system work—or not work—given that one congressman seems to have the power to shovel money to specific contractors, crooked or not? (Cunningham's shenanigans were made all the easier by the fact that, as USAT recently reminded, the contracts were part of the military's classified, "black budget.")

It has been a trying time for procurement reform -- and unfortunately there is little leadership right now with several key posts vacant. That leaves Rep. Tom Davis and former OFPP administrator Steve Kelman and a handful of others leading the charge.

Posted by Christopher Dorobek on Nov 29, 2005 at 12:15 PM


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