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Project on Government Oversight

Feds Can Learn a Contractor-Responsibility Lesson from the States

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September 9, 2009

On the heels of a New York Times story about how the General Services Administration (GSA) awarded stimulus-funded contracts to a company with a checkered history of misconduct, POGO recommends the federal government and other states look closely at what the New York State Comptroller is doing to ensure that only responsible contractors receive stimulus contracts.

While the GSA has proposed a new system to track contractor integrity and performance, the New York Times provides further evidence that the federal process for identifying contractor responsibility is seriously flawed.  According to the New York Times, the GSA awarded $6 million in stimulus funds “to a huge international construction management company that has been the focus of two criminal investigations.” POGO was able to identify these possible red flags through a simple internet search.

“It’s unlikely that this contractor would have gotten their hands on any stimulus dollars if the contract decision had been made at the state level, thus under the watchful eye of the New York State Comptroller,” says Ingrid Drake, Investigator at POGO. “That office is following up on whistleblower tips, conducting intensive responsibility reviews of every stimulus-funded contract, and engaging contractors in the process.”

After learning about the New York State Comptroller’s recent decision to not approve a stimulus-funded contract for highway bridge painting absent a more comprehensive review of the vendor’s responsibility, POGO followed up with the Comptroller’s Office to find out exactly how it is determining contractor responsibility. POGO outlines these best practices, which include the use of POGO’s federal contractor misconduct database, in a recent blog.  

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.