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Senate Panel OKs Bill to Block Political Donation Disclosure for Contractors

Photo: Jack Moore

The Senate Armed Services Committee approved an amendment last week that would block federal procurement officials from asking contracting companies about political contributions.

The amendment, which was introduced by Sens. Susan Collins (R-Maine) and Rob Portman (R-Ohio), was passed by SASC as part of the negotiations surrounding the 2012 National Defense Authorization Act.

In April, speculation began mounting over a draft executive order requiring companies contracting with the federal government to disclose political contributions. The administration said the order would increase openness and transparency. However, critics of the plan contended it would inject politics into the contract-awarding process and install a “pay-to-play” scheme.

The issue caused a minor kerfuffle on Capitol Hill, when the administration initially indicated that administration would not testify about the proposals before Congress. However, in the end, Office of Federal Procurement Policy Administrator Dan Gordon took questions from representatives, although remained relatively tight-lipped about the proposal, because, as he said, it was still in draft form.

Industry group the Professional Services Council, which came out swinging out against the proposal when it was first reported on, applauded the Senate panel’s amendment.

“The draft order would actually inject political information into procurements where such information is not now considered,” argued Stan Soloway, president and CEO of the council, in a release.

The council would like the Senate to adopt a measure that would bar information about political contributions in procurements across the government.

The House, in its version of defense authorizations, included an amendment that would put a governmentwide ban in place, according to PSC.

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