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Project on Government Oversight

Congress Unwilling To Abide By Competitive Contracting Rules For Congressional Earmarks

Related Content: Earmarks
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November 5, 2007

Congress has justifiably been highly critical of billions of dollars in government contracts that the Administration has issued without competition for reconstruction efforts in Iraq and the Gulf Coast . In fact, Congress has repeatedly voted to end or limit these "no bid" contracts. Section 828 the Senate Defense Authorization bill simply applies that same reasoning to earmarks.

But, now they are adopting a "do as we say, not as we do" stance as this week the House Armed Services Committee leaders are working to strip requirements for contracts and grants resulting from earmarks to face competition. During consideration of the FY2008 Defense Authorization bill, the Senate adopted a common sense provision that would make earmarks subject to federal competitive bidding laws and regulations.

Supporters of requiring competition include Citizens Against Government Waste, National Taxpayers Union, Project on Government Oversight, Taxpayers for Common Sense, and the Sunlight Foundation.  Today, in a joint letter to members of Congress, the ten good government groups said, " Section 828 would not prevent Members of Congress from making earmarks, it would simply introduce common sense transparency and competition in the awarding of grants and contracts."

Those common sense provisions ensure that the American taxpayers get the best deal and prevent favor exchanges which have cast a pall over the reputation of the Congress.

The most egregious corruption scandals in the past few years have all involved Members of Congress who steer earmarks to companies in exchange for money and favors. Eliminating Section 828 will be hard for Members of Congress to justify given all the recent critical attention to Congressional earmarks.

For More Information Contact:
Beth Daley or Marthena Cowart, Project On Government Oversight, 202-347-1122
Ed Frank, Americans for Prosperity, 202-349-5880
Ken Boehm, National Legal and Policy Center , 703-237-1970
Pete Sepp, National Taxpayers Union , 703-683-5700
Gabriela Schneider, Sunlight Foundation, 202-742-1520 ext 236
Steve Ellis, Taxpayers for Common Sense, 202-546-8500  

Founded in 1981, the Project On Government Oversight (POGO) is a nonpartisan independent watchdog that champions good government reforms. POGO’s investigations into corruption, misconduct, and conflicts of interest achieve a more effective, accountable, open, and ethical federal government.

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