Friday, April 7, 2017

Proposed Legislation Would Requiring Publishing the Full Text of Government Contracts

Last month, Senator McCaskill (MO) introduced the Contractor Accountability and Transparency Act of 2017. Despite its name, the only thing it requires is for the Government to post electronic versions of all contracts over $150,000 (the simplified acquisition threshold).
... machine readable, searchable copy of each covered contract entered into by a Federal agency after the date of the enactment ... posted not later than 30 days after the agency enters into the contract.
Agencies would be permitted to redact information related to national security, sensitive, or classified information or trade secrets or other proprietary information if approved by the contracting officer and OMB (Office of Management and Budget). Redacted information may not include information that would be available under FOIA (Freedom of Information Act) requirements.

On her website, Sen McCaskill wrote: "...I take very seriously my responsibility to shine a spotlight on government on behalf of taxpayers, to cut down on wasteful government spending, and uphold the highest ethical standards. That's why [I introduced] commonsense bills that boost transparency in government spending ... to prevent waste, fraud, and abuse. The more transparency we have, the better we know how to strengthen government efficiency and effectiveness."

Many agencies - Energy, for example - already post their major contracts and we don't see anyone clamoring to download and digest them. In truth, 95 percent of contracts are simply boilerplate content that is also available in the solicitations, which are already posted on line, or can be found in the FAR and respective agency FAR supplements.

It does not seem to us that posting complete contracts to a websight will offer any great insight into Government purchases and offers little more than what is already publicly available such as on Instead, it will result in increased labor costs to review and redact information that should not be made public.

Contractors, what do you think? Let us know.

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