Since coming into office in 2009, President Obama has made great strides in making government more accountable to the American people, pursuing tough reforms to cut waste and act as responsible stewards of taxpayer dollars. In the area of contracting, this Administration has slashed billions in spending and taken aggressive steps to hold contractors accountable and ensure that we don’t do business with those who seek to abuse or misuse Federal funds.
Last fall, former OMB Director Jack Lew reminded agencies of their ongoing responsibility to do business with contractors who place a premium on integrity, performance, and quality--and not do business with firms who are proven bad actors and put Americans’ hard-earned dollars at risk for waste, fraud, and abuse. In a November 2011 memorandum to federal agencies, he called on agency heads to make sure they are fully equipped to suspend or debar contractors whenever necessary to keep federal missions out of harm’s way. The ability to debar or ban a certain company from doing business with the U.S. government is an important tool we have to protect taxpayer dollars from waste, fraud and abuse.
Today, a new report shows the results of the Administration’s stepped up accountability efforts. The new report from the Interagency Suspension and Debarment Committee (ISDC), a coordinating body of Federal representatives, found that in each of the past three years, agencies have collectively increased suspensions and debarments of companies that fail to play by the rules, going from just over 1900 in FY 2009 to more than 3000 in FY 2011. While the vast majority of government contractors compete fairly to deliver the best value to the American people, it is critical that the government take a hard line against those who would defraud taxpayers. The report shows the Obama Administration has made significant progress in cracking down on bad actors. Just as significant as the progress are the management actions that underlie it, and indicate an increased agency commitment to protecting taxpayer resources.
Through this increased management attention and building capability where it did not exist before, agencies are now better equipped to protect the public from wrongdoers before critical agency resources are unnecessarily wasted. For instance:
Strengthening agency suspension and debarment capabilities is just one of a number of ways the Obama Administration has attacked waste and abuse to get better value from our contractors. Restoring competition to its rightful place as the cornerstone of our acquisition system is another. There is no greater every-day remedy than competition for curbing fraud, improving contractor performance and promoting accountability for results. With concerted agency efforts, we have seen the amount of contract dollars competed over the last three years rise to 64 percent, the highest average level of competition in Federal contracting we have seen over any three year period in the last quarter century and 8 percent higher than the average level of competition reported during the last Administration.
The Obama Administration’s intensified focus on contractor accountability will continue to drive even better results as agencies continue to build the skills of their workforce. With more than one out of every six dollars of Federal government spending going to contractors, that is good news for America’s taxpayers.
Joe Jordan is Administrator of OMB’s Office of Federal Procurement Policy