We Pause for This Commercial…Sale

May 22, 2012

Legislators are fighting over every single dollar in this year's defense budget, although saving billions could be as simple as changing a few words in a contracting statute. And believe it — or not — the Pentagon is the good guy in this battle.

The Defense Department is circulating a proposal on Capitol Hill that would stop defense contractors from using a contracting loophole to escape oversight and waste taxpayer dollars. Currently, contractors can label certain goods and services as "commercial," even if the items are never bought by the public. This allows contractors to avoid disclosing information about the costs of creating the product or service. The result? The government ends up paying highly questionable prices for certain items.

Although this proposal didn't make the cut for the House's vote last week on amendments to the National Defense Authorization Act , it's not too late to get it through the Senate. Congress needs to help the Department of Defense put a stop to this oft-abused type of contract, which eseentially lets contractors set their own prices without any economic consequences.

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