Monday, March 23, 2009

Sen. Claire McCaskill Seeks Input for Contracting Reform

To help set the agenda for the newly formed Senate contracting oversight panel, Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-MO) is circulating an open discussion forum to seek input about the agenda and to prioritize strategic direction for the new Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Subcommittee on Contracting Oversight. This panel was set up by Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee Chairman Sen. Joseph Lieberman (I-CT) in January of this year.

According to Sen. McCaskill:

What hearings would you like to see? What contract or program needs additional oversight? What laws, regulations, and policies need to be changed?

I'll need all the suggestions and support I can get -- I'll draw heavily on your input as we move forward toward a system that better serves the government and the taxpayer.

Participants are encouraged to offer their opinions through the discussion forum, or by e-mailing the subcommittee at or

According to the statistics on the site, 159 people have submitted 109 suggestions and cast 1,625 votes. Suggestions include financial penalties for late delivery of product or services, knowledge-based acquisition, and changes to the incentive structures. Many discussion participants also offered strong opinions about cost-plus and sole-source contracting.

McCaskill outlined a abroad agenda to ensure feedback from a wide range of sources, including seeking the assistance of auditors, inspectors general, contractors, local chambers of commerce and watchdog groups to investigate contracting abuses.

"Problems have occurred at every stage of the contracting process, from pre-award planning and requirements development through the recovery of overcharges," she said. "The contracting workforce is no longer adequate to handle the volume and complexity of the contracting workload. And the lack of oversight has been an invitation to waste, fraud and abuse."

The senator’s office stated that a date and topic of the first hearing will come within the next week or two.

I hope every stakeholder involved in federal contracting submits input to Sen. McCaskill, and helps improve federal acquisition by submitting thoughtful, constructive input to help shape agenda and be a catalyst for real change.

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