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Letter to Senators Levin and McCain and Representatives McKeon and Smith: National Defense Authorization Act

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Congressman John Tierney, Ranking Member of the National Security, Homeland Defense, and Foreign Operations Subcommittee, sent a letter today to key conference committee members who are beginning their work to reconcile House- and Senate-passed versions of the Fiscal Year 2013 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). The Senate version of the bill includes an amendment (S.Amdt.2929 to S.3254) to strengthen oversight and accountability and reduce waste, fraud, and abuse in wartime contracting. The amendment contains important reforms that were also included in legislation introduced by Congressman Tierney earlier this year.

Last year, the Commission on Wartime Contracting, released a report which indicated that at least one in every six dollars of U.S. spending for contracts and grants in Iraq and Afghanistan over the past decade, or more than $30 billion, has been wasted. Congressman Tierney was one of the congressional leaders that helped establish the Commission in 2008 to investigate precisely this type of wasteful government spending.

The entire text of the letter sent by Congressman Tierney this afternoon follows and can be found here :

December 10, 2012

Dear Senators Levin and McCain and Representatives McKeon and Smith:

As the conference committee begins the important task of reconciling House- and Senate-passed versions of the Fiscal Year 2013 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), I am writing to express my support for Senator McCaskill's amendment (S.Amdt.2929 to S.3254) (McCaskill amendment) to strengthen oversight and accountability and reduce waste, fraud, and abuse in wartime contracting.

As the Ranking Member of the National Security Subcommittee of the House Oversight Committee, I have seen too many instances of waste, fraud, and abuse in wartime contracting, most recently in our ongoing investigation of a multi-billion dollar food contract in Afghanistan. Following five-and-a-half years of gross contract mismanagement, the government demanded that the prime contractor, Supreme Foodservice, return $757 million in overpayments. In the current environment of fiscal austerity, it is imperative that we take responsible steps to protect taxpayer resources and learn from the contracting mistakes made in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The McCaskill amendment represents the best, current hope of achieving this goal. The provision would improve the contingency contracting system by:

* Requiring timely submission of contractor performance evaluations within fourteen days of providing them to affected contractors for comment;

* Requiring past performance and integrity information on the entire corporate entity, including any parent, subsidiary, and successor entities, in the Federal Awardee Performance and Integrity Information System; and

* Requiring sustainability assessments for certain capital projects to ensure the thorough review of necessity and sustainability of projects.

These reforms would increase oversight and accountability by empowering contracting officers to make informed decisions and reduce the amount of taxpayer waste due to projects built without adequate consideration for the host nation's capacity to sustain them.

Earlier this year, I introduced the Oversight and Accountability in Wartime Contracting Act of 2012 (H.R. 6360), a bill that would strengthen the system for awarding and overseeing contractors in war zones and reduce our reliance on non-competitive practices. My bill adopted key recommendations of the Commission on Wartime Contracting, and included some of the same reforms that Ms. McCaskill has championed in the Senate.

We must not waver in our collective efforts to root out deficiencies in the contracting system and protect precious taxpayer resources from being squandered in future contingency operations. The McCaskill amendment brings us a step closer to achieving this goal. For these reasons, I strongly urge you to adopt the McCaskill amendment.

Sincerely,

John F. Tierney

Ranking Member, Subcommittee on National Security, Homeland Defense and Foreign Operations

Committee on Oversight and Government Reform


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