Senate Passes Amendments to Shed Light on Contractor Misbehavior

by Gavin Baker, 11/30/2012

The Senate has approved several amendments to the National Defense Authorization Act (S. 3254), which will bring greater transparency and accountability to federal contracting. The amendments, which OMB Watch endorsed, would:

  • Strengthen whistleblower protections for federal contractors and grantees, which ensures that employees of contractors and grantees cannot be fired or punished for reporting misconduct, modeled after the protections pioneered in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 – sponsored by Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-MO)
  • Require the Defense Department to publish its "revolving door" database of senior department officials who seek employment with defense contractors – sponsored by Sens. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI)
  • Require the Defense Department to conduct an annual study on defense contracting fraud, including an assessment of its business with contractors previously penalized for fraud against the government and recommendations for reform – sponsored by Sens. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and Joe Manchin (D-WV)

Notably, the McCaskill amendment will apply to recipients of federal funds government-wide, not just Defense Department contractors. The Senate's vote to strengthen whistleblower protections for federal contractors and grantees comes just days after President Obama signed a law to upgrade protections for federal employees. As was noted in a letter signed by several organizations including OMB Watch:

Whistleblowers are taxpayers’ best defense against waste, fraud, and abuse. Encouraging contractor whistleblowers to come forward is a critical way to rein in wasteful spending, particularly given the billions of taxpayer dollars spent on contracts and grants every year.

Image by U.S. Navy.

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