Although he’s been busy with some other matters, Sen. Barack Obama found time this week to introduce legislation that would expand the amount of information made available to the public on federal procurement contracts. The measure was introduced with Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.), who had joined Obama in a previous bipartisan initiative that resulted in the 2006 passage of legislation creating the USA Spending database. The original co-sponsors of the new bill (S.3077) are Senators John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Tom Carper (D-Del.).
S.3077 calls for an expansion of the data provided via USA Spending, the creation of which also needs to be credited to OMB Watch, which built its own contract database, FedSpending, on which the federal resource ended up being based.
As summarized by Obama’s office, the bill would add to USA Spending:
– A copy of each Federal contract in both PDF and searchable text format.
– Details about competitive bidding, the range of technically acceptable bids or proposals, and the profit incentives offered for each contract.
– The complete amount of money awarded, including any options to expand or extend under a contract.
– An indication if the Federal award is the result of an earmark.
– Information about government lease agreements and assignments in the same manner that information is reported for contracts, grants, and other assistance.
– An assessment of the quality of work performed on Federal awards.
– Information about Federal audit disputes and resolutions, terminations of Federal awards, suspensions and debarments, and administrative agreements involving Federal award recipients.
– Information about any civil, criminal, or administrative actions taken against Federal award recipients, including for violations related to the workplace, environmental protection, fraud, securities, and consumer protections.
– Information about Federal tax compliance by Federal award recipients.
– Information about parent company ownership that will be made accessible, along with other data on USASpending.GOV, through application programming interfaces.
– Links to publicly available Government reports.
Legislation covering the bullet point about disclosure of the legal track record of contractors—along the lines of the Project On Government Oversight’s Federal Contractor Misconduct Database—has already passed the House.
It is not clear whether the new Obama-Coburn bill would do anything to address a problem highlighted by Secrecy News—the fact that intelligence agencies such as the Defense Intelligence Agency and the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency have been refusing to submit data on even their unclassified contracts to USA Spending. As noted in the last issue of the Digest, the intelligence agencies are outsourcing more and more of their work, so disclosure of those contracts becomes all the more important.