Agencies said to oppose contract 'blacklisting' rules

Two Northern Virginia lawmakers on Monday pressed President Clinton to reconsider a proposed rule that would establish ethics standards for government contractors, highlighting an internal memorandum showing opposition from within the administration.

Reps. Tom Davis, R, and James Moran, D, brought to Clinton's attention a late-September memo from the Defense Acquisition Regulation Council (DARC) expressing concern about the "adverse effects" of the so-called "blacklisting" regulation on contracting officers' ability to meet their requirements.

According to Davis and Moran--in an Oct. 30 letter to Clinton--the memo states that a number of federal departments also hold this view, including the Army, Air Force, Defense Logistics Agency, Defense Contract Management Agency and National Aeronautics Space Administration. The General Services Administration and the Environmental Protection Agency also have expressed their opposition to the proposed rule.

"The statements from the internal DARC memo are deeply troubling and suggest that the administration's proposed regulation could be damaging to the federal procurement process," Davis and Moran said in the letter. They called on Clinton to delay action on the regulation until the completion of an ongoing General Accounting Office audit of its impact.

"This will give Congress and the administration the opportunity to obtain critical data and conduct the necessary oversight to ensure this major shift in the federal procurement process is sound public policy," the lawmakers' letter said.

Davis and Moran introduced an amendment to the funding bill for the Treasury Department and Postal Service seeking to delay implementation until GAO completes its study. The amendment passed the House in July but was stripped from the appropriations bill the following day, according to Davis spokesman David Marin.

The administration may publish the "contractor responsibility" regulation as soon as this week, sources said. Officials with the Office of Federal Procurement Policy could not be reached for comment.

Sen. Tim Hutchinson, R-AR, and Senate Majority Whip Don Nickles, R-OK, earlier this year introduced similar legislation to delay the rule. The bill has the support of 30 to 40 members, but no action has been taken on it, according to Hutchinson spokeswoman Sue Hensley. In September, Hutchinson called the measure "a payoff to the labor unions, based purely on election-year politics, not substance," because Vice President Al Gore suggested it in a 1997 speech to the AFL-CIO.

Clinton vetoed the Treasury-Postal spending bill late Monday, but there is little likelihood of getting the postponement provision back into it at this point, congressional sources said.

The proposed rules aim to keep companies from winning federal contracts if they are found to have poor labor relations or ethically problematic practices. It could have a strong effect on the high-tech industry because the federal government is the largest single purchaser of high-tech products.

Stay up-to-date with federal news alerts and analysis — Sign up for GovExec's email newsletters.
Close [ x ] More from GovExec

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Forecasting Cloud's Future

    Conversations with Federal, State, and Local Technology Leaders on Cloud-Driven Digital Transformation

  • The Big Data Campaign Trail

    With everyone so focused on security following recent breaches at federal, state and local government and education institutions, there has been little emphasis on the need for better operations. This report breaks down some of the biggest operational challenges in IT management and provides insight into how agencies and leaders can successfully solve some of the biggest lingering government IT issues.

  • Communicating Innovation in Federal Government

    Federal Government spending on ‘obsolete technology’ continues to increase. Supporting the twin pillars of improved digital service delivery for citizens on the one hand, and the increasingly optimized and flexible working practices for federal employees on the other, are neither easy nor inexpensive tasks. This whitepaper explores how federal agencies can leverage the value of existing agency technology assets while offering IT leaders the ability to implement the kind of employee productivity, citizen service improvements and security demanded by federal oversight.

  • IT Transformation Trends: Flash Storage as a Strategic IT Asset

    MIT Technology Review: Flash Storage As a Strategic IT Asset For the first time in decades, IT leaders now consider all-flash storage as a strategic IT asset. IT has become a new operating model that enables self-service with high performance, density and resiliency. It also offers the self-service agility of the public cloud combined with the security, performance, and cost-effectiveness of a private cloud. Download this MIT Technology Review paper to learn more about how all-flash storage is transforming the data center.

  • Ongoing Efforts in Veterans Health Care Modernization

    This report discusses the current state of veterans health care


When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.