The Obama administration has been circulating a draft Executive order that would require contractors/bidders to say what political candidates and other causes they have supported with political contributions over the past two years. In addition to company contributions, the order would require information from companies’ executives and managers on whom they supported personally.
Last week, Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) told President Obama’s top procurement policy official the Executive Order was a bad idea for general competition and small-business. “If you want more competition, there should not be an executive order that will be doing the exact opposite,” Collins said during a hearing (she is the ranking member of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee).
Many actual details would be left up to the Federal Acquisition Regulatory (FAR) Council. However current draft language spells out the desires of the administration according to an article in Federal Computer Week:
- All contributions or expenditures to federal candidates, parties or party committees made by the company, its directors, or any affiliates or subsidiaries it controls.
- Any contributions made to a third party with the intent to use those contributions to make independent expenditures or election advertisements.
Companies would be required to disclose the information if the total amount exceeded $5,000 in a year. Further, the Obama administration wants the data made public through an online database.
The debate over this issue is heating up. On the one hand, transparency in government is a good idea. On the other hand, there seems to be little trust that the information will not be used negatively, either through favoring current administration supporters or disfavoring opponents. And, delving into private contributions of individuals seems far reaching to many of those who are opposed.
Ultimately, most agree procurement decisions should be made on which solution provides the greatest overall value to the taxpayer. How this is best achieved will clearly be the topic of ongoing debate.