Former White House chief urges overhaul of congressional panels

The congressional committee structure should be overhauled to streamline oversight responsibilities, President Bush's former chief of staff said Tuesday.

Agencies are struggling to navigate the "bureaucracy" of congressional oversight, particularly in the appropriations process, said Andrew Card, who served as chief of staff from 2000 to 2006 and had a stint as the Transportation secretary in the early 1990s. He spoke at the Security Industry Association's 2007 Government Summit in downtown Washington.

Card said executive branch efforts to improve efficiency by implementing governmentwide programs have been stymied by inflexible congressional committees.

He said, for instance, that after the Homeland Security Department was created, congressional committees did not realign themselves accordingly because they did not want to give up their oversight power.

"Homeland Security officials spend most of their time appearing before different committees who have some piece of responsibility in oversight," Card said. "I would like to see a governmentwide reform effort and not just an executive branch reform … not to take away responsibility [from Congress] but to restructure."

Meanwhile, House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Henry Waxman, D-Calif., told the industry group that his panel takes its oversight responsibilities seriously and will continue to watch federal contracting aggressively.

"Our contracting rules need to be fair and fast," Waxman said. "The majority of federal contractors play by the rules. We have to make sure they all play by the rules."

Waxman declined to describe the federal procurement system as "broken" but said that the growth of contracting has strained the government's ability to oversee the process. He decried the practice of agencies hiring contractors to oversee contracts, and the growth of no-bid and other types of noncompetitive contracts.

Legislation sponsored by Waxman to reform the procurement system -- the Accountability in Contracting Act (H.R. 1362) -- passed 347 to 73 in the House and now awaits action by the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee.

"We need to improve the system at a time when we see such dramatic increases in government spending and there is a lot of money on the table," Waxman said. "There is somebody willing to do a lot to get that money even if it's not honest, consistent with the public interest and not by the rules."

Waxman noted that while proper oversight can lead to legislation, oversight can also lead to solutions without legislation.

General Services Administration chief Lurita Doan told the audience her agency is taking steps to improve contracting, such as opening schedule contracts to state and local governments for buying advance supplies for disasters using federal funds.

"Our goal is to move a mountain of goods and supplies to exactly where they're needed to exactly when they're needed to exactly the people who need them," Doan said. "It is absolutely a huge new market for businesses that were traditionally only federal government contractors if you look at expanding our schedules into the state and local government."

Doan declined to answer questions after the event, noting her busy schedule due to her appointment Wednesday morning before Waxman's oversight panel.

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

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

  • Sponsored by Brocade

    Best of 2016 Federal Forum eBook

    Earlier this summer, Federal and tech industry leaders convened to talk security, machine learning, network modernization, DevOps, and much more at the 2016 Federal Forum. This eBook includes a useful summary highlighting the best content shared at the 2016 Federal Forum to help agencies modernize their network infrastructure.

    Download
  • Sponsored by CDW-G

    GBC Flash Poll Series: Merger & Acquisitions

    Download this GBC Flash Poll to learn more about federal perspectives on the impact of industry consolidation.

    Download
  • Sponsored by One Identity

    One Nation Under Guard: Securing User Identities Across State and Local Government

    In 2016, the government can expect even more sophisticated threats on the horizon, making it all the more imperative that agencies enforce proper identity and access management (IAM) practices. In order to better measure the current state of IAM at the state and local level, Government Business Council (GBC) conducted an in-depth research study of state and local employees.

    Download
  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    The Next Federal Evolution of Cloud

    This GBC report explains the evolution of cloud computing in federal government, and provides an outlook for the future of the cloud in government IT.

    Download
  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    A DevOps Roadmap for the Federal Government

    This GBC Report discusses how DevOps is steadily gaining traction among some of government's leading IT developers and agencies.

    Download
  • Sponsored by LTC Partners, administrators of the Federal Long Term Care Insurance Program

    Approaching the Brink of Federal Retirement

    Approximately 10,000 baby boomers are reaching retirement age per day, and a growing number of federal employees are preparing themselves for the next chapter of their lives. Learn how to tackle the challenges that today's workforce faces in laying the groundwork for a smooth and secure retirement.

    Download
  • Sponsored by Hewlett Packard Enterprise

    Cyber Defense 101: Arming the Next Generation of Government Employees

    Read this issue brief to learn about the sector's most potent challenges in the new cyber landscape and how government organizations are building a robust, threat-aware infrastructure

    Download
  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    GBC Issue Brief: Cultivating Digital Services in the Federal Landscape

    Read this GBC issue brief to learn more about the current state of digital services in the government, and how key players are pushing enhancements towards a user-centric approach.

    Download
  • Sponsored by CDW-G

    Joint Enterprise Licensing Agreements

    Read this eBook to learn how defense agencies can achieve savings and efficiencies with an Enterprise Software Agreement.

    Download
  • Sponsored by Cloudera

    Government Forum Content Library

    Get all the essential resources needed for effective technology strategies in the federal landscape.

    Download

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