Contractor Disclosure Could Survive Under Omnibus

December 20, 2011

The White House may have another shot at requiring contractors to reveal their political contributions under the omnibus appropriations bill that passed the House on Friday.

A provision in the omnibus, which will fund the Defense Department and most other agencies through the end of fiscal 2012, bars those agencies from requiring contractors to disclose political contributions before awarding a government contract.

However, it does not prohibit those agencies from seeking that information after an award.

That leaves room for President Obama to issue an executive order he's been considering since early this year that would require contractors to disclose their political contributions, Rep. Anna Eshoo, D-Calif., said in a statement. But the omnibus provision may conflict with language added to a separate defense authorization bill now awaiting Obama's signature after winning House and Senate approval earlier this week.

After a draft order leaked out in April, White House officials said they were considering the policy as a way to add more openness to the contracting process. Congressional Republicans, backed by contractor groups, argued the order would only inject more politics into the process. To stop it, lawmakers added a broader ban to the authorization bill.

Under that bill, defense agencies would be prohibited from collecting information about a contractor's political contributions both before awarding a contract and during the performance of a contract.

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