Federal Manager's Daily Report

In recently passing a bipartisan amendment to a Defense

Department spending bill, the Senate effectively drew a new

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line in the debate over what is an “inherently governmental

function”–and thus, one that shouldn’t be subject to

contracting-out. The amendment to S-2400 restricts the

situations in which a contract can be overseen by another

contractor and creates a presumption that in-house employees

should do that work.


The amendment arose in part because of concerns about certain

contracts for Iraqi rebuilding, in which contractors were

responsible for keeping an eye on other contractors. The

language states that oversight is a government

responsibility, bars renewing existing oversight contracts

and bars the Pentagon from issuing new ones. “It seems to me

we have to get the oversight back where it belongs, and that

is in the hands of the Department of Defense and not in the

hands of private contractors, Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., said

during the debate. “Oversight is inherently a governmental

function because accountability must be first and foremost

to taxpayers.”


Said Sen. Byron Dorgan, D-N.D., “I happen to think oversight

is a responsibility of the government, of the federal agency

that is going to spend the money. It is their responsibility

to provide oversight, not someone else’s responsibility.”


Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich., noted that over the past several

years there have been reductions in the Defense Department

acquisition workforce and that the Senate earlier passed a

separate amendment to increase that workforce by 15 percent

over three years. Both amendments will be subject to a

conference with the House.