U.S. Senator Kelly Ayotte (R-NH) announced this week that legislation she authored - the "Never Contract With the Enemy" Act - has received key endorsements from General Joseph Dunford, commander of U.S. and international forces in Afghanistan, and Stuart Bowen, Jr., the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction (SIGIR). The bill, which Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) is cosponsoring, would help federal officials more quickly cancel contracts that are allowing U.S. taxpayer dollars to fall into the hands of America's enemies.
The legislation would expand and enhance successful provisions Ayotte and Senator Scott Brown (R-MA) included in the fiscal year 2012 National Defense Authorization Act that gave Pentagon contracting officials in the Central Command area of responsibility the ability to more expeditiously sever ties with contractors who funnel taxpayer resources to those who oppose the United States.
During a hearing last Tuesday, General Dunford endorsed the legislation and testified that it will be "critical" that the State Department and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) have the same authorities to cancel contracts as the Department of Defense (DoD) so that we "don't contract with the enemy." General Dunford continued, "Expanding that [authority] to include non-DoD organizations makes a lot of sense."
Also last week, Stuart Bowen, the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction, made the following statement regarding the legislation: "In Iraq, SIGIR documented many contracting problems that reportedly involved our tax dollars falling into the hands of the enemy. Much progress has been made on improving contingency contracting, but we must take action to enhance existing legislation and reduce these vulnerabilities. The Ayotte-Blumenthal "Never Contract with the Enemy Act' (S. 675) sensibly embodies such action. The Congress should enact this legislation, which would help all federal agencies serve as better financial stewards and improve the protection of our national security interests."
Senator Ayotte said, "I appreciate these critical endorsements, and I look forward to working with my colleagues to move this legislation forward quickly. We must ensure contracting officials in all federal agencies have the tools they need to prevent our tax dollars from ending up in the hands of our enemies."
With the U.S. government engaging in a large number of contracts around the world to promote our interests, the Ayotte-Blumenthal legislation seeks to reform the Federal Acquisition Regulation to give federal contracting officials the tools they need to terminate or void contracts that are directly or indirectly benefitting America's enemies.
Under current law, the Pentagon has the authority to void contracts that are benefitting our enemies in Afghanistan - but Defense Department contracting officials outside of the Central Command area of responsibility and all other federal government contracting officials do not. The Never Contract With the Enemy bill would improve the nation's contracting policies by allowing officials across government to more expeditiously stop contracts that have been found to benefit our enemies.