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More Dollars, Less Sense

Posted on by Karina

Today the Oversight Committee released a report entitled More Dollars, Less Sense: Worsening Contracting Trends Under the Bush Administration. Last year, the committee conducted the first comprehensive assessment of government contracting under the Bush Administration creating an online searchable database of problem contracts and releasing a report finding “that between 2000 and 2005, federal procurement spending rose by over 80%, no-bid and other contracts awarded without full and open competition increased by over 100%, and contract mismanagement led to rising waste, fraud, and abuse in federal procurement.”

Non Competitive Contract Spending Has IncreasedThe report released today analyzing the 2006 federal procurement data reveals that procurement spending continues to grow rapidly with over $200 billion in new contracts awarded uncompetitively. Specifically, the report finds:

Procurement Spending Continues to Grow Rapidly. Last year's report found that procurement spending had risen from $203.1 billion in 2000 to $377.5 in 2005. This year's report finds that procurement spending increased to $412.1 billion in 2006, a new record. Contract spending has now more than doubled since President Bush took office. At the Department of Homeland Security, procurement spending increased by 51% last year alone. Since 2000, spending on federal contracts has grown more than twice as fast as other discretionary federal spending. For the first time, the federal government now spends over 40 cents of every discretionary dollar on contracts with private companies.

The Award of Noncompetitive Contracts Is Accelerating Dangerously. Last year's report found that no-bid contracts and other forms of contracts awarded without full and open competition had risen from $67.5 billion in 2000 to $145.1 billion in 2005. This year's report finds that spending on these no-bid and limited-competition contracts surged over $60 billion to $206.9 billion in 2006, the largest single-year increase ever. The value of federal contracts awarded without full and open competition has more than tripled since 2000. For the first time on record, more than half of federal procurement spending was awarded through no-bid and limited-competition contracts in 2006.

Waste, Fraud, and Abuse Continue to Soar. Last year's report identified 118 contracts valued at $745.5 billion that had been found by government auditors to involve significant waste, fraud, abuse, or mismanagement. This year's report identifies 187 contracts valued at $1.1 trillion that have been plagued by waste, fraud, abuse, or mismanagement. In the case of each of these 187 contracts, reports from the Government Accountability Office, the Defense Contract Audit Agency, agency inspectors general, or other independent federal oversight officials have documented significant overcharges, wasteful spending, or mismanagement over the last six years.

On March 15th, the House overwhelmingly passed the Accountability in Contracting Act which requires federal agencies to limit the use of abuse-prone contracts and increases transparency and accountability in federal contracts. The Administration issued a Statement of Administration Policy declaring their strong opposition to the legislation. Chairman Waxman explains:

Chairman Waxman:
“It looks like this Administration would now like to keep us from getting embarrassing information about them, because they don’t like this bill. ‘We have to give too many reports to Congress…there has to be too much transparency…it’s burdensome to have to be open about these contracts.’ But the fact of the matter is, we are spending an incredible amount of money on these outside contracts. And from what we have seen, our taxpayers are not being protected from waste, fraud, abuse and corruption.”
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