Representative Tom Cole filed an amendment to current DOD Reauthorization legislation in response to President Obama’s draft Executive Order that would compel companies and private citizens who work for government contractors to reveal their donations and membership payments to trade and professional associations and social welfare groups when submitting bids for federal contracts. The proposed amendment would prohibit government agencies from demanding this information be submitted with bids for contracts that are supposed to be free of politics.
The amendment will help keep politics out of the federal acquisition process. The Cole amendment would allow private citizens who happen to work for contractor to donate to causes that may be unpopular with both this and also future administrations without fear their personal views will jeopardize their ability to have bids fairly considered.
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce released a letter that expresses similar sentiments:
The Cole Amendment would help ensure that political spending-or the lack thereof-continues to play no role in federal contracting decisions. The amendment reaffirms the principle, currently embodied in federal procurement laws, that the Executive Branch has an obligation to procure goods and services based on the best value for the American taxpayer, and not on political considerations. It also reaffirms the principle that the Administration cannot enact through executive fiat legislation that Congress has considered and explicitly rejected.
Although the federal acquisition process is far from perfect, there is no evidence to suggest that campaign contributions or donations to third parties by contractors are somehow corrupting the process. With the 2012 election season on the horizon, we commend Representative Cole’s attempt to stop the Obama administration’s attempt to undermine the honesty and fairness of the federal procurement process by linking politics to government contracts.