Republicans Vote Down Sarbanes Amendment on Defense Contractor Oversight
Washington, DC – During the debate on the FY12 National Defense Authorization Act today, Congressman John Sarbanes offered an amendment that would have ensured that the Department of Defense (DoD) meet some minimum standard of accounting for the contracts they have issued for services such as human resources, IT support, food preparation, applications processing and many other areas. The amendment would have required DoD to develop a comprehensive inventory of all service contracts. The amendment failed by a vote of 198 to 225.
“Despite requirements set out by the Congress, the Defense Department has failed to establish sound accounting practices for the services they are contracting out,” said Congressman John Sarbanes. “It’s common sense that you should know how much money is being spent on what services and it is outrageous that anyone would resist this basic standard in our current budgetary climate.”
- The Department of Defense keeps no comprehensive inventory of service contractors, even though the department spent $161 billion on these types of contracts in FY10—42% of all contract spending.
- As a minimum standard for accountability, Congress required DoD to establish an inventory of service contracts so that it could identify those contracts that cost too much, are being poorly performed, or include inherently governmental functions.
- And yet, as the practice of contracting-out these functions accelerated, DoD has still failed to take meaningful steps toward integrating this common-sense practice into its budget process— a practice that the Comptroller General has repeatedly attributed to runaway spending on services contracts.
- The Bipartisan Report of the House Committee on Armed Services accompanying this legislation addresses the performance of inherently governmental functions by Army Contractors:
- “The committee finds this troubling and urges military services, particularly the Army, to convert such functions immediately to performance by civilian employees.”
- Examples of Inherently Governmental work include:
- The direct conduct of criminal investigations by Contractors
- The determination of agency policy—including writing regulations
- Setting agency budgets
- Federal procurement activities with respect to prime contracts