Do contracting officers need to know if a contracters gave money to National Right to Life? 

House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform Chairman Darrel Issa, R-Calif., had wanted Office of Management and Budget Director Jacob Lew to testify on President Obama’s draft “Disclosure of Political Spending By Government Contractors” executive order, but the White House declined to provide him. Instead, the administration sent Administrator for Federal Procurement Policy Daniel Gordon, who is very willing to talk about government procurement process, but not much else. Specifically, he completely declined to talk about the draft executive order at all.

So Chairman Issa chose a different tack. He asked Gordon if he could think of any reason why a contracting officer would need to know if a bidding company or any of their directors had given to National Right to Life? Gordon could not.

During his questioning, Ranking Member Elijah Cummings, D-Md., then established that while government contractors might not need to know about a contractor’s political activities, the public does want to know.

Rep. Gerry Connolly, D-Va., who has many federal contractors in his district, was much more skeptical of the draft order. He said he was very concerned that the order could chill the free speech of federal contractors.

The Hill reported earlier today that more Democrats are rebelling against Obama’s draft order. Sens. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., and Joe Lieberman, I-Conn., signed a letter voicing their concerns: “We are concerned that requiring businesses to disclose their political activity when making an offer risks injecting politics into the contracting process. Federal contracting law already precludes the consideration of political activity in evaluating contract offers.”

You can follow the hearing live here, and the video will be archived here.

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