Senate Gives Final Approval to National Defense Bill, McCaskills Wartime Contracting Provisions Included
After a sustained six-year fight, Senators sweeping legislation is now on the brink of becoming law
December 4, 2012
WASHINGTON - Today, with the passage of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), the U.S. Senate has given final approval to Senator Claire McCaskill's sweeping overhaul of wartime contracting. Major components of McCaskill's Comprehensive Contingency Contracting Reform Act, the most important such overhaul in decades, were adopted by unanimous consent as an amendment to the NDAA late last week. With passage today of the Senate's version of the Defense Authorization, these provisions are now on the verge of becoming law, and are headed to a conference committee that will reconcile differences between the House and Senate bills.
"The fight to bring some real accountability to wartime contracts has taken six years-and the finish line is now in sight," said McCaskill, former State Auditor of Missouri and current Chairman of the Senate Subcommittee on Contracting Oversight. "In Iraq and Afghanistan we've spent hundreds of billions of dollars on contracting, and lost tens of billions of it to waste and fraud-the question as we move forward is how we make sure these mistakes aren't forgotten or repeated."
Addressing the pending conference committee McCaskill said, "It's critical that these wartime contracting provisions aren't permitted to fall by the wayside."
The wartime contracting provisions adopted in the amendment are based on McCaskill's bipartisan legislation, which was cosponsored by Senator Jim Webb (Va.), as well as Senators Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) and Susan Collins (R-Maine)-the Chairman and Ranking Republican Member, respectively, of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, as well as Senators Al Franken (D-Minn.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Jon Tester (D-Mont.) and Joe Manchin (D-W. Va.). The amendment and legislation build upon recommendations issued last year by the Commission on Wartime Contracting in Iraq and Afghanistan-an independent modern-day Truman Committee, created through legislation passed in 2007 by McCaskill and Webb and modeled after President Harry Truman's crusade to combat the wasteful war profiteering that occurred during World War II.
In its final report to Congress, issued after three years of investigation, the Commission found that the U.S. had squandered up to $60 billion through waste and fraud on contracts in Iraq and Afghanistan. The panel identified major failures in contingency contract planning, execution and oversight within the government. It concluded that such waste will increase if accountability across government is not improved as U.S. operations in Iraq and Afghanistan wind down.
The wartime contracting reform amendment included in the NDAA will improve contracting practices and accountability across the federal government by:
- Elevating oversight responsibility, improving management structures, expanding planning requirements, and reforming contracting practices during overseas military contingencies;
- Prohibiting excessive pass-through contracts and charges to the government;
- Establishing additional oversight responsibilities for Inspectors General for contingency operations;
- Improving the contracting process through greater transparency, competition, and professional education; and
- Instituting additional provisions for contractor accountability.
For a complete timeline of Senator McCaskill's work to reform wartime contracting and build on the work of the Commission on Wartime Contracting in Iraq and Afghanistan, click HERE.
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