Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Chair Joe Lieberman just sent out a release announcing the creation of a new subcommittee to provide oversight of government contracting. The Ad Hoc Subcommittee on Contracting Oversight will be headed by Sen. Claire McCaskill, long a proponent of exposing fraud and waste in contracting.
“Management of federal contracts is one of the greatest operational challenges facing the federal government,” Lieberman said. “Spending on federal contracts rose to an astounding $532 billion last year. And for years the Government Accountability Office has listed government contracting on its list of programs at high risk of waste, fraud, abuse, mismanagement, or in need of comprehensive reform. This is a problem area that needs as much oversight as we can possibly muster.
“So, to more fully address the array of problems with federal contracting, I am establishing this new subcommittee with pride and great expectations. With her background as a prosecutor and state auditor, Senator McCaskill has unique investigative experience that will be crucial for this new subcommittee. I am certain that she will approach her new responsibilities with unmatched vigor to improve the value of all the taxpayer dollars devoted to federal contracting.”
McCaskill said: “Last year we made major strides in contracting accountability by establishing the Wartime Contracting Commission, and while I look forward to those investigations, we all know that outrageous contracting abuses occur in every facet of government. I can’t wait to get to work saving huge money for taxpayers. They deserve it.”
Over the past few years various senators have attempted to create a committee or a commission both in the form of the famous Truman Committee, which investigated fraud and waste in World War II defense contracting. Sen. Byron Dorgan was in favor of the creation of a committee with full subpoena power, while Sen. Jim Webb and McCaskill sought the creation of commission with more limited powers. The Webb-McCaskill commission, named the Wartime Contracting Commission, was eventually established last year, but has yet to hold hearings.
The establishment of this new subcommittee, with oversight over more than just defense contracts, marks a huge step forward in the efforts by many to maintain a government contracting system that is free of waste, fraud, and corruption.