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Public's Right to Know Defense Contract Details Not "Essential"

Money Exchanging Hands

Every week, the Department of Defense awards new deals to contractors. The contracts vary in significance and price-- but because of the shutdown, the Pentagon has stopped announcing any details on the awards. Apparently, the deals themselves are essential, but the public knowing about them is not.

Withholding this information is actually against the law. The Pentagon is obligated to publicly announce any awards worth more than $6.5 million every day at 5 p.m.

In a Bloomberg article, a Pentagon spokesman said he is aware that announcing the contracts is required, but the people who make the announcements are currently furloughed. They plan to make “one big announcement” once funds are appropriated.

The Bloomberg story quoted Charles Tiefer, a former member of the US Commission on Wartime Contracting and a law professor at the University of Baltimore, who believes the shutdown is increasing secrecy in an area that already lacked transparency.

For the public not to know for days, and perhaps even a number of weeks, about large-scale contract spending is anathema to open government. This is a form of secret contracting.

By: Avery Kleinman
Beth Daley Impact Fellow, POGO

Avery Kleinman At the time of publication Avery Kleinman was the Beth Daley Impact Fellow for the Project On Government Oversight.

Topics: Contract Oversight

Authors: Avery Kleinman

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