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Senate Accepts Coburn ‘No-Bid' Earmark Amendment

Press Release

Location: Washington, DC

Senate Accepts Coburn ‘No-Bid' Earmark Amendment
Rejects Amendment to Close National Drug Intelligence Center (NDIC)

U.S. Senator Tom Coburn, M.D. (R-OK) released the following statement today after the Senate unanimously accepted his amendment to the Defense Department authorization bill which will prohibit Congress from using earmarks to award "no-bid" government contracts and grants.

"Contracts to design or construct military hardware and equipment for our men and women in combat should be awarded based upon merit rather than political connections or calculations. The billions of dollars Congress doles out each year in earmarked projects are essentially ‘no-bid' grants or contracts handed out to pre-selected, individual recipients. Bypassing the standard competitive grants and contracts process is unacceptable and leaves Congress no way of guaranteeing taxpayer dollars are going to the most cost-efficient and qualified entity to perform a service," Dr. Coburn said.

For example, the Senate Department of Defense authorization bill discloses 309 earmarks costing a total of $5.6 billion. An analysis completed by Taxpayers for Common Sense, however, claims the bill contains 90 additional undisclosed earmarks at a cost of $8 billion bringing the total cost of earmarks to $13 billion.

"This is an overwhelming number of projects and since most members of Congress are not experts on defense systems and military hardware, it is difficult to know if these defense dollars were wisely spent or ensured the best products," Dr. Coburn said.

Coburn Amendment 2945 also would require the Department of Defense to provide a report to Congress every year with the name of the recipients of the funds awarded, the reasons the recipient was selected and the number of entities that competed for the earmark contract.

Additionally, the Senate rejected Coburn Amendment 2196 which would close the National Drug Intelligence Center (NDIC) and reassign its necessary and essential activities.

The NDIC, created by an earmark and put under the supervision of the Pentagon, has siphoned away $500 million from the operations of the efense Department. The Department of Justice has repeatedly asked Congress to shut down NDIC saying the center's operations are duplicative and that reassigning its responsibilities would improve the management of counter-drug intelligence activities.

"Because Congress continues to put its parochial interests ahead of the interests of the country, we have a drug enforcement program that is duplicative and siphoning money away from other drug enforcement programs. We should be accomplishing something with that $500 million that is of value to the American taxpayer rather than something that is not of value," Dr. Coburn said.

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