AUGUST 30, 2010
The “most transparent administration in history” is shielding companies that annually get billions of dollars in government contracts from disclosing how they’ve cheated U.S. taxpayers by impeding a new law that requires the information to be publicly available.
Passed by Congress earlier this year, President Obama proudly signed the contractor disclosure measure over the summer so that Americans could see, before any new contract is awarded, whether a “company plays by the rules” and how well it’s performed in the past. Any firms doing business with Uncle Sam must report criminal or civil wrongdoing, previous failures in federal work or any administrative findings against it.
As per the law (Clean Contracting Act of 2008), the information is kept on a publicly accessible database that also lists whether the contractor has ever defaulted on a prior government job or engaged in egregious behavior that resulted in suspension or disbarment. The idea, according to the independent Vermont Senator who authored the measure, is to ensure that the public has access to critical information about where its tax dollars are going.
But the powerful defense companies and other industries that get a chunk of the government’s annual $500 billion contracting budget don’t want their dirty laundry aired publicly. Incredibly, they’ve found an ally in Obama, despite his world-renowned, open-government rhetoric. The White House has delayed enacting the crucial disclosure provision while it “studies the issue,” according to a newspaper report published this week.
In a statement issued to the publication, the White House said that “there will be legal and practical issues” that must be addressed before contractors are forced to reveal their corrupt past. However, Americans ran rest assured that the president’s people intend to address those mysterious issues “as quickly as possible” to keep with the administration’s commitment of increasing “transparency in government contracting.”
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