Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Chairman Towns Raises Concerns About Government Contracts at White House Fiscal Summit...

U.S. Representative Edolphus “Ed” Towns (D-NY), Chairman of the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, today participated in a White House fiscal summit of members of Congress, independent experts, unions, and advocacy groups to discuss ways to cut the trillion-dollar deficit currently facing the nation.

Chairman Towns was invited to the summit by President Obama and took the opportunity to raise his concerns about ongoing contracting and procurement problems that will affect the distribution of federal funds. He also offered several ideas about how to prevent waste, fraud, and abuse of taxpayer dollars.

Chairman Towns maintains a hard-line stance on the importance of increasing transparency and compliance with the minority and women-owned business mandates as we stimulate local economies, especially in communities like Brooklyn, New York.

“Given the current fiscal crisis, I want to make sure the federal government spends money to help stimulate the national economy and that MWBE’s – like the ones that employ people in local communities all across New York – are not forgotten during this process,” said Rep. Towns. “There are more than 215,000 New York jobs at stake.”

Chairman Towns recommended that the government make a concerted effort to break its pattern of engaging primarily with mega-contractors. Often, small and minority-owned businesses nationwide cannot get contracts with the government, preventing critical dollars from reaching communities and preventing potentially more innovative companies from offering their services.

“One reason why we tend to rely only on a few mega-contractors is that we don’t have the personnel to administer more, smaller contracts,” said Towns. “We are essentially contracting-out the acquisition and project management functions of the federal government.”

Chairman Towns also noted that the government must look at its basic contracting efforts and begin to hire and better-train contracting officers. By doing so, many of these problematic contracts and cost overruns could be detected and prevented.

Chairman Towns is set to hold a hearing on Thursday to look into how convicts and con artists – people who have been formally debarred from federal contracting – continue to receive new work because the databases created to maintain this information are out of date and inaccurate.