The Project On Government Oversight (POGO) wrote members of the U.S. House of Representatives today in support of nine proposed amendments to the defense authorization bill that would cut wasteful spending, hold contractors more accountable and strengthen oversight at nuclear weapons labs. Tomorrow the House Rules Committee will decide which amendments to the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) FY 2013, H.R. 4310, will be made in order, followed by debate and votes on the Floor in the U.S. House of Representatives.
Four of the amendments focus on government contractors. One proposed by James Lankford (R-Okla.) and Gerry Connolly (D-Va.) would help end the egregious practice of contractors using U.S. taxpayer dollars to fund human trafficking. Another by Paul Tonko (D-N.Y.) and Jackie Speier (D-Calif.) would cap the amount taxpayers pay in salaries to defense contractor executives. The amendment lowers the compensation cap from over $763,000 to $400,000. Another amendment by Speier calls for the Pentagon to improve the way it collects and reports data on the cost of its service contractors. An amendment by Leonard Boswell (D-Iowa) would narrow the definition of a “commercial item” in DoD contracts to mean goods or services that are actually sold to the general public in like quantities.
“It’s past time for Congress to hold contractors more accountable—especially ending human trafficking funded by taxpayer dollars, but also closing loopholes and lowering the cap on outrageous payrolls paid for with taxpayer dollars,” said POGO Director of Public Policy Angela Canterbury.
The Lankford-Connolly anti-human trafficking amendment requires companies to closely monitor and report the activities of their subcontractors down the supply chain. It also would expand the definition of “fraudulent recruiting” to apply to laborers who work on U.S. government contracts outside the U.S., mandating responsible labor recruitment practices.
Two amendments that POGO supports address the U.S. nuclear weapons laboratories. An amendment proposed by Reps. Ed Markey (D-Mass.), Loretta Sanchez (D-Calif.) and Hank Johnson (D-Ga.) would restore cuts already made by the House Appropriations Committee to an unnecessary plutonium research facility at the Los Alamos National Laboratory. The National Nuclear Security Administration said it does not need the facility—known as the Chemistry and Metallurgy Research Replacement-Nuclear Facility (CMRR-NF)—in order to fulfill its nuclear weapons and science missions.
An amendment by Reps. George Miller (D-Calif.), Peter Visclosky (D-Ind.) and Sanchez would address the weakening of oversight at nuclear weapons laboratories. The proposal would strike language in the NDAA that allows contractor-operated labs to self-report and self-regulate their performance.
Another set of amendments increases savings by replacing or delaying weapons systems. A proposed amendment by Reps. Markey, Peter Welch (D-Vt.) and John Conyers (D-Mich.) would delay the new long-range penetrating bomber aircraft, with a budget savings of $291 million. An amendment by Reps. Conyers and Keith Ellison (D-Minn.) would replace the costly Marine Corps variant of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter with the less expensive F/A-18E/F Super Hornet.
Lastly, an amendment offered by Rep. Mike Coffman (R-Colo.) would right-size the top-heavy Pentagon bureaucracy, capping the number of General/Flag Officers at no more than one for every 2,000 troops. This amendment will reduce the General and Flag Officer ranks by less than 5 percent.
To read POGO’s recommendations to members of the House of Representatives, go here.