Senators Press White House to Clamp Down on 'Bridge Contracts'

Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., wrote a letter seeking more information, along with Sen. Tom Carper, D-Del. Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., wrote a letter seeking more information, along with Sen. Tom Carper, D-Del. Flickr user Senator Claire McCaskill

Two Democrats on the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee wrote to the White House procurement policy chief seeking clarity on Obama administration plans to strengthen oversight of so-called “bridge contracts’’—temporary extensions to sole-source contractors that auditors warn may stifle competition.

Ranking member Tom Carper, D-Del., and Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., sent a letter dated Oct. 20 to Office of Federal Procurement Policy Administrator Anne Rung, requesting a briefing following the release this week of a Government Accountability Office report. That report found that such departments as Defense, Health and Human Services and Justice use bridge contracts with “limited or no insight” into the frequency of their use for extended periods, in part because of a lack of definition of such contracts.

As early as May 2013, McCaskill raised concerns about weak oversight of departments found to be “awarding lengthy bridge contracts and following the award of the bridge contract with another sole-source contract,” she said in a statement.

“When noncompetitive contracts are used frequently or for prolonged periods,” the new letter warned, “the government is at risk of overpaying for goods and services.”

The senators want a White House briefing to their staff and clarification of plans for the procurement office to meet with the Federal Acquisition Regulation Council on the topic.

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