May 23, 2014 •
On May 21, the U.S Government Accountability Office (GAO) issued a report describing the steps taken to improve the suspension and debarment programs of some agencies with federal contracts and grants. The report, prepared for the House of Representatives Committee […]
On May 21, the U.S Government Accountability Office (GAO) issued a report describing the steps taken to improve the suspension and debarment programs of some agencies with federal contracts and grants. The report, prepared for the House of Representatives Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, found “the number of suspension and debarment actions government-wide has more than doubled from 1,836 in fiscal year 2009 to 4,812 in fiscal year 2013.”
In 2011, the GAO had recommended strengthening federal agency suspension programs by implementing “dedicated staff, detailed policies and procedures, and an active referral process.” The six agencies reviewed for the report had all carried out some of the previous recommendations. The GAO did not make any new recommendations in its report. The report can be found here.
March 5, 2012 •
The 2013 Federal Budget proposed by President Obama would remove provisions put in the Fiscal Year 2012 National Defense Authorization Act which prohibit federal agencies from requiring the disclosure of political contributions and expenditures from vendors bidding on federal contracts.
The prohibition was inserted into the 2012 Act as a response to a draft executive order which was leaked in the spring of last year. The executive order would have required disclosure of campaign contributions and political expenditures by bidders of federal contracts.
“The White House, contrary to the intent of Congress, is apparently still trying to advance a policy that would inject politics into the federal contracting process instead of focusing on promoting competition and best value in contracting,” said U.S. Senator Susan Collins in a minority press release from the U.S. Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Government Affairs.
Even with the current prohibition of disclosure from bidders, some groups are urging the President to require federal contractors disclose their political contributions after the bidding process is completed and a federal contract is awarded.
A brief review of this issue can be found here.
March 1, 2012 •
Leaked draft executive order
In the spring of 2011, a draft presidential executive order was leaked to the public. The order would require every entity submitting offers for federal contracts to disclose certain political contributions and expenditures made within the two years prior to submission of their offer. The disclosure requirement included contributions made to federal candidates, parties, and committees by the bidding entity, its officers, and any affiliates or subsidiaries within its control. Contributions made to parties for independent expenditures and electioneering communications would also be reported. These disclosures would be required whenever the aggregate amount of the contributions and expenditures by the bidding entity exceed $5,000.
Reaction to the order was swift. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce, writing on behalf of a coalition of more than 80 business groups and trade associations, strongly protested the proposed executive order. Meanwhile, a letter in support of the order, signed by more than 30 public interest groups, urged full disclosure of campaign contributions and expenditures by federal government contractors. U.S. Representative Anna G. Eshoo sent a letter to President Obama, signed by more than 60 members of the House, in support of the proposed executive order.
The House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform and the House Small Business Committee held a joint hearing to examine the order, evaluate its impact and consequences on the federal acquisition system, and determine whether it introduced politics into the procurement process. Bills opposing the proposed order were introduced in both the House and the Senate. Finally, a compromise amendment, precluding an executive agency from requiring a vendor bidding on a contract to disclose political contributions, was added to the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal 2012. The act passed and was signed by President Obama at the end of 2011.
Passage of the bill did not end calls for disclosures of political contributions from federal contractors, however. Petitions with more than 100,000 signatures were submitted by Public Citizen and MoveOn.org to the White House, urging the President to require federal contractors to disclose their political contributions after the bidding process is completed and a federal contract is awarded.
October 20, 2011 •
Wagner v. FEC
Individuals with federal contracts should be allowed to make political contributions to federal candidates or political parties, a lawsuit filed yesterday by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) argues.
The suit, Wagner v. Federal Election Commission, filed in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia, challenges the constitutionality of section 441c of Title 2 of the U.S. Code, which prohibits any vendors with contracts with the federal government from making such contributions.
According to its press release, the ACLU is asking the Court, on behalf of the three named plaintiffs, to declare the law unconstitutional as applied to individuals who have personal services contracts with federal agencies. Because federal workers who are not contractors may make federal political contributions, while contractors performing the same work may not, the suit argues section 441c violates both the Equal Protection Clause of the Constitution and the First Amendment.
Photo of the United States District Court for the District of Columbia courtesy of the Court’s website.
State and Federal Communications, Inc. provides research and consulting services for government relations professionals on lobbying laws, procurement lobbying laws, political contribution laws in the United States and Canada. Learn more by visiting stateandfed.com.