Contractors could face increased oversight on the Hill

The Democratic Congress is unlikely to take on many investigations or oversight hearings scrutinizing the incoming Obama administration in its next session, which could lead lawmakers to steer their oversight focus toward contractors, procurement experts said on Wednesday.

"I think the oversight on the Hill is going to be fairly gingerly applied the first couple of months … they'll give this administration a chance to get people in place and priorities started," said Alan Chvotkin, vice president and counsel for the Professional Services Council, a contractor association, at an acquisition panel discussion hosted by the Washington law firm Venable LLP.

But just because committee chairs won't have the opportunity to grill administration officials who might also be political rivals doesn't mean they're going to relinquish their oversight duties entirely.

"If you're Henry Waxman or Ed Towns or any of the other committee chairmen who do oversight, I think they're not just going to give the Obama administration a grace period, a honeymoon period … I think these folks are going to turn to somebody. And who is that somebody? The contractors and the individuals getting the money," said Raymond Shepherd, a partner at Venable and former staff director and chief counsel of the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations.

All the panelists named accountability, transparency and oversight as key contracting themes they expect to see in the next administration and those themes are likely to be reflected in Congress as well.

"What's on our plate for the coming year, a lot of that will be guided by what the Obama administration sends up to us and what his priorities are," said Cathy Garman, a professional staff member on the House Armed Services Committee.

Rob Burton, a Venable partner and former deputy administrator of the Office of Management and Budget's Office of Federal Procurement Policy, expects accountability will continue to be a major focus from both an executive and legislative perspective, with one key twist.

"I think in the next year or so the focus will be on contractor accountability," Burton said. "With the Bush administration it's a good argument that the focus was on agency accountability -- there's no question that the Bush administration was very preoccupied with agency performance, making sure they had tangible, measurable results. There was the President's Management Agenda focused on agency accountability, there was a score card … now there are a number of things with the contractor accountability that will be fairly significant."

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:

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • Sponsored by Cloudera

    Government Forum Content Library

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


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