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Public Statements

National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2007

Location: Washington, DC



Mr. OBAMA. Mr. President, I rise to speak in favor of amendment No. 4371, which is being offered today by my friend, Senator Coburn. Senator Coburn and I have been working tirelessly to improve accountability and transparency in Federal contracting so that the American people can rely on their Government for the excellence and efficiency that they deserve.

Award and incentive fees are often used in defense contracts to encourage outstanding performance. But too often these awards are given without regard to performance. That doesn't make sense. This amendment prohibits unsatisfactory performance from being rewarded by the Federal Government. It sets a higher standard for defense contractors and requires them at least to satisfy the basic requirements of a contract in order to be eligible for any award or incentive fee.

It is a simple concept. No bonus awards when the work is unsatisfactory. Period. You don't tip a waiter who doesn't bring you your food. You don't give a bonus to an employee who doesn't do his or her job at work. The Government should not permit awards for work that is less than satisfactory. Awards should be used as an incentive for excellence, not as a backdoor for undeserved payments.

The authorization bill makes some progress by requiring the Secretary of Defense to provide needed guidance on the use of awards and incentive fees. It requires guidance that award fees be tied to performance outcomes. It requires guidance on designating contractor performance as ``excellent,'' or ``superior.'' It requires standards for when performance awards are appropriate.

This amendment just makes it clear that unsatisfactory work should never be eligible for an award. Contractors can and must be held to a higher standard. Our troops deserve no less. American taxpayers deserve no less. Americans should reward excellence, not mediocrity; success, not failure; contract fulfillment, and nothing less.

I urge my colleagues to support this amendment.


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