McCaskill Provisions Strengthen Accountability in Defense Contracting
Two key McCaskill amendments added to defense authorization bill
WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Claire McCaskill today announced the passage of two key provisions aimed at increasing government accountability in defense department contracting and acquisitions. The language was added as amendments to the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), which the Senate Armed Services Committee passed late Wednesday, and authorizes spending and policy for the Department of Defense for fiscal year 2009.
“This is about making sure we put in place policies that will, in the end, protect federal tax dollars and keep our government accountable,” McCaskill said. “When whistleblowers don’t speak up, we have a problem. Whistleblowers are our best shot at stopping the waste and fraud in our military contracting. We must protect them and we can’t do that if they don’t know their rights.”
McCaskill offered an amendment to the NDAA that would ensure that employees of contractors are made fully aware of their rights should they become whistleblowers. The provision would require the Department of Defense to establish a process under which all contractor employees would be informed of their legal rights to disclose information about wrongdoing, regardless of any confidentiality requirements of their employer. The new rules would also clarify that any confidentiality requirements of the defense contract employer do not override the statutary whistleblower protections of the employee. The committee accepted a similar McCaskill provision last year as an amendment to the NDAA, but the language was stripped out of the bill during final negotiations between the House of Representatives and the Senate. The language McCaskill offered this year was fully supported by the DoD IG.
McCaskill’s second successful amendment would help prevent the Department of Defense from rehiring unscrupulous companies by making available more and better information as they are awarding contracts. The provision would require the Department of Defense to establish a centralized database of defense contractors who have faced negative action, including details on each incident of concern. The Pentagon will be required to refer to the database as part of the contracting award process.
In addition to the amendments offered by McCaskill, the National Defense Authorization Act works to improve the quality of life of service members and their families, gives military men and women the resources they need, help restore military readiness, while seeking to improve efficiency and government oversight at the Department of Defense. For a full summary of the bill, visit http://armed-services.senate.gov/press/09mark.pdf .