Who could object to Contractor Accountability?

By: Andrea Chamblee
Published On: 3/15/2007 11:11:48 PM

Cross posted at Beltway Progressive

Who is objecting to Contractor Accountability, Whistleblower Protection, and Testimony from Valerie Plame?

The purpose of the Contractor Accountability bill is "to improve Federal contracting and procurement by eliminating fraud and abuse and improving competition in contracting and procurement and by enhancing administration of Federal contracting personnel, and for other purposes."

Coming after the scandal of the contracting out of Walter Reed, which was done so poorly and at a higher cost then the government employees who had been working there for decades, the bill had broad support. Only 73 of 433 members of Congress, all Republicans, voted against the bill. Tom Davis and Eric Cantor voted against contractor accountability.

The National Association of Government Contractors is for the bill. They're tired of being used as a "piggy bank" for Congressional campaigns.
Tom Davis even voted with 190 Republicans against bringing the bill to the Floor for a vote.

The Washington Post is for it. When the Democrats first introduced this in 2000, the Post hosted Paul Light, Vice President, Director, and Douglas Dillon Senior at the Brookings Institution. Light said:

"If we're going to have a contract work force, which we surely do, we ought to know what it looks like. Make it visible, understand it, track its movement, and make sure it is the highest quality for the dollar possible. We are increasingly in the business of buying labor through service contracts, but we continue to treat that labor as if it were nothing more than a stick of furniture. Our contract officers need to get smarter, better, and more agile at understanding the difference between buying toilet paper and procuring professional services."

Davis succeeded in attaching to the bill a provision that would prohibit all government agencies from awarding contracts to any institutions of higher learning that deny military recruitment on their campuses. This amendment split the Democrats and united the Republicans. Under current law, the ban applies only to contracts from the Pentagon, the Department of Homeland Security and a few other agencies.

Davis also voted twice with the Republicans to prevent the Whistleblower Protection Act from coming to the floor here and here. It is obvious that the Walter Reed scandal came to light only because of whistleblowers; considering that Walter Reed personnel responded to the scandal by prohibiting employees and patients from speaking with the press, the need for this critical protection is obvious.

Davis is also "clearly unhappy" that Waxman has scheduled testimony from Valerie Plame on Friday, and Davis is trying to close the hearing.

See his Rubber Stamp voting record here.


If you watched the debate... (littlepunk - 3/16/2007 7:32:21 AM)
...you could tell that both sides were clearly passionate, and as Davis noted at one point, he and Waxman just have fundamental philosophical differences about this type of accountability and oversight.  Waxman feels that burdensome paperwork and bureaucratic red tape are the way to go.  Both of them were very respectful of each other.  Of course Davis wants accountability - he's a strong supporter of it - it's just a matter of how that accountability is put to practice.

If you watched the debate, you would also know that both Waxman, Hoyer, and a host of others praised Davis for all the work he did during his Chairman's tenure, for working in a bipartisan and compromising fashion to bring this particular bill to the floor (not withstanding the other four bipartisan bills passed this week), and it's very clear the two of them have a strong working relationship - the best between any two Chairman/Ranking Members in the House.  Duncan Hunter laid into Waxman for making a broad statement about how Republicans didn't practice oversight, and Waxman immediately jumped up and defended Davis 100%.  It was an interesting display, obviously one that you didn't see.

There are definitely a lot of strong elements to this bill, but it goes overboard with the regulations and things getting bogged down.  But if you work for a contractor like a very very large percentage of Davis' constituents do, you'd know the adverse effects this bill would have, as well.  He listed a litany of contractor organizations - including Haris Miller's ITAA - in opposition to the bill and their reasons for it.

I know you're going to shoot back with a post about campaign donations, corruption, Abramoff, etc.  Because that's what you do and it's boilerplate and old by this point.  But no problem, knock yourself out.

Do you seriously think that (Lowell - 3/16/2007 7:49:08 AM)
Andrea should stop talking about "campaign donations, corruption, Abramoff, etc?"  Why, aside from the fact that you don't want to hear it?

only because (littlepunk - 3/16/2007 9:07:55 AM)
everything she says always links back to it, and most of the time it's very thin, at best.  that's all.  and the abramoff links are all her imagination on this topic - i'm sure if there were ANY type of link whatsoever between our local folks and abramoff, we'd know.  but nothing.  anyways, it's just very predictable, that's all.

plus, i find it ironic that she's sitting there being critical, when the democrats themselves have failed to pass any type of lobbying legislation thus far.  MONTHS after they promised they'd push something through, there's still been no bill to come out of conference.  am i surprised?  not at all.  governing is a lot harder than you think it is when you're out of power.  i just find it very very ironic, that's all.  and nobody's raising a fuss about it!  (well obviously not on here - but in general)  do i care?  no, not particularly, i'm very reasonable and know how things work.  but it's just as easy - probably easier - to turn the sword on yourself.  but i realize i'm in enemy territory here so i try to be respectful of that.

Democrats scheduled more hearing since January than Davis held in the 108th Congress (Andrea Chamblee - 3/16/2007 9:35:24 AM)
According to the Boston Globe, Davis held 37 hearings in those 2 years. To blame the Democrats for not passing legislation in a few weeks of sessions is just ludicrous. There IS a war on.

I'm not sure why you're tired of the links. They're called "references" -- something you can't seem to be bothered to read or address.

Hearings... (littlepunk - 3/16/2007 10:07:23 AM)
...don't solve everything.  There's a lot more to legislating than just holding hearings - and you can get a lot of information without holding hearings, too.

Sure, hearings can be effective.  They can also be a waste of time.  Like this Plame hearing today probably.  Just going on the number of hearings scheduled is an arbitrary statistic to support your point.  But that's fine, nothing wrong with it.

Except you can't say where he's been effective with or without a hearing (Andrea Chamblee - 3/16/2007 10:46:20 AM)
Davis did a great job closing the barn door after Katrina blew everything out.

He did a great job flushing out who identified Valerie Plame.

He did a great job finding out who is torturing people in prisons.

He did a great job finding out how we decided Iraq had WMDS.

He did a great job finding out why we aren't looking for Osama Bin Laden anymore.

How much money is missing in Iraq? $5 billion?

The 9-11 Commmission gave grades of D-minus to the Security issues under Davis's oversight. The last document written by 9-11 Commission members is "Terrorists Will Strike Again," on December 15, 2005 in the Chicago Tribune.

Tom Davis has been called "one of the main protectors of Halliburton in Congress" by the Baltimore Chronicle.

Lobbying legislation (Rebecca - 3/16/2007 10:31:10 AM)
If I am not mistaken the Democrats have passed legislation prohibiting lobbyists from giving free vacations and other such gifts to lawmakers, -such as the free vacation (one of many) Davis and his wife took to Europe on a paid for private jet. Poor Tom. Now he has to pay for his own vacations.

Lobbying reform passed, Rebecca's correct. (Andrea Chamblee - 3/16/2007 10:58:58 AM)
It is a Resolution - Code of Conduct. And it was passed Quickly. It's HR 6.

i know it has (littlepunk - 3/16/2007 11:36:51 AM)
to be accurate, i specifically mentioned a bill coming out of conference.

No bill needed-this is a Code of Conduct matter (Andrea Chamblee - 3/16/2007 5:43:32 PM)
As long as Tom DeLay isn't in charge of the ethics committee anymore, the Ethics Committee can enforce it.

Haster fired the Ethics Committee members after they censured DeLay so they couldn't censure his co-conspirators like Davis.

Good luck on your brackets!  I picked VCU, and I only got Wright State/Pitt and Marquette/Michigan State wrong so far. Those 8-9 games are the killers.

you know... (littlepunk - 3/16/2007 11:38:54 AM)
...i think i am going to go crawl back inside my little cave now.  it's a friday, my mind is hurting, and i'm very tired.  my facts aren't completely straight and there's too much basketball to research to check them.

be back in a couple weeks.

Davis's fundamental differences on oversight is that it should not exist. (Andrea Chamblee - 3/16/2007 10:10:33 AM)
Thanks for the excuse for a wrap up, LP.  All the regulars know by now, but for the newcomers out there:

* That's why his wife sells herself to prepare witnesses for his hearings.

* That's why Davis had Angela Styles at GSA fired and replaced with felon David Safarian.

* That's why Davis overlooked the hiring of Lurita Doan at GSA and her work for the Republican Party, a woman already censured for selling contracts to friends.  That's why he overlooked Doan's downsizing of auditing at GSA.

* That's why he ignored problems at Walter Reed.

* As to the reason his constituents are contractors, it's because he presided over the largest contracting out of core government functions in history, while demanding contributions from their PACS for himself, his two PACS, and his wife. Those contractors performed more expensively and less than admirably at WalterReed as well as in the Gulf in the Middle East and the Gulf at home during Katrina.

I'm sure his constituents from MCI WorldCom who lost their retirement fund when the rich Board of Directors speculated with risky company loans using employee retirement as collateral are thrilled with how much money the company donated to Davis in order to be considered for the $20 billion Networx contract, another boon-doggle for Republican donors.

"We aren't going after the mini scandal du jour, to try to embarrass the administration on a hearing that's going nowhere," said Davis, Republican of Virginia.

Now, Terri Schiavo, apparently Davis decided that Schiavo neeeded another hearing despite 15 years and about 10 hearings.

Yes, Congressmen call each other "The Honorable" instead of "That A-hole" in public, and thank each other for their service. At least they do now that Democrats are back in power.  But Davis got his power in the party by enlisting now-felons Tom Delay and Mike Scanlon in back-stabbing true moderate Christopher Shays; the Republican Party top brass didn't like Shays because Shays had co-sponsored campaign finance reform, a law which would have crippled the money churning done by DeLay, Davis, Abramoff and the RNCC.

Sure (littlepunk - 3/16/2007 10:51:58 AM)
Glad I could help, Andrea.

I'm fired up about this (Rebecca - 3/16/2007 10:27:10 AM)
I'm really fired up about Davis' lack of support of accountability. In fact, I'm so fired up and have so much to say that I am going to have to wait until my lunch break to post it. For now, the National Security Whistleblowers Coalition does NOT consider Davis a friend.

Davis' coverup machine (The Government Reform Committee) (Rebecca - 3/16/2007 1:03:40 PM)
During the tenure of Tom Davis as chair of the House Government Reform Committee many whistleblowers requested hearing with his committee. They were denied access. In particular, Sibel Edmonds, a well known whistleblower who was a translator for the FBI had some very interesting things to say about covert drug smuggling and issues related to the events prior to 9/11.

A friend who is a local reporter referred me to her and another member of the NSWBC when he found out I was working to help defeat Tom Davis' re-election bid. I met with Sibel Edmonds and Mike Springmann at a local coffee shop to discuss their experience trying to access Tom Davis and his committee.Both Sibel and Mike had lost their jobs for trying to reveal wrongdoing in their agencies, wrongdoing which threatened the security of the United States.

The cooalition gave me a CD with scores of letters to Tom Davis on behalf of Edmonds and other national security whistleblowers asking Tom to have them testifiy before his committee. Letters were sent to Tom Davis from high ranking officials in the military and heads of civilian agencies. If I remember correctly I even saw a letter from the head of the FAA.

Sibel was never able to testify before Davis' committee. She took her case to the supreme court where the court issued a gag order to keep her quiet.

Sibel is just one of a list of people who should have been allowed to testify before Davis' committee. Last march Sibel was awarded the PEN/Newman's Own 1st Amendment Award. French filmmakers have made a movie about her called "Kill the Messenger". You can read more about Sibel and this movie here:


Some of this is in French, but if you go to the bottom of the page you can read the speech she gave when she accepted the above award. Among other things she says in her speech:

"Standing up to despotism and tyranny has always been considered illegal by those in power, and dangerous to those who would expose them. Today we are facing despots who use `national security' to push everything under a blanket of secrecy; to gag and call it a privilege; to detain without having to show a cause; and to torture yet believe it's fully justified.

We must be vigilant & fight back, for our freedom is under assault - not from terrorists - for they only attack us, not our freedom, and they can never prevail. No, the attacks on our freedom are from within, from our very own government; and unless we recognize these attacks for what they are, and stand up, and speak out - no shout out - against those in government who are attempting to silence the brave few who are warning us; then we are doomed to wake up one sad morning and wonder when and where our freedom died."