WASHINGTON – Senator John Kerry (D-Mass.) today praised the passage of legislation he authored that will increase contracting transparency and accountability at the Transportation Security Administration (TSA). The agency was initially exempted from federal contracting laws after the September 11th terrorist attacks, despite the fact that every other major federal agency, including the Department of Defense, had to comply with the Federal Acquisition Regulations. Under legislation introduced by Senators Kerry and Olympia Snowe (R-Maine), and passed as part of the consolidated appropriations bill, the TSA will be required to meet small business contracting goals and comply with all other federal contracting laws.
“By repealing these exemptions, Democrats in Congress have leveled the playing field for small businesses to compete for TSA contracts, and increased accountability to help prevent future mismanagement and waste of taxpayer dollars,” said Kerry, Chairman of the Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship.
The provisions were based on legislation introduced earlier in the year by Senators Kerry and Snowe and Congressman Christopher P. Carney (D-Pa.). Specifically, by repealing the exemption from federal contracting laws, the provisions will create a more competitive bidding process and require the agency to meet the 23 percent small business contracting goal. The Citizens Against Government Waste and the Professional Services Council – a trade association for federal contractors – support the provisions.
When they introduced their legislation, Kerry, Snowe and Carney cited the years of contract mismanagement as proof that there is no longer justification for the exemption. Over the last several years, TSA has awarded contracts filled with wasteful spending, including a contract to Boeing that jumped from $508 million to $1.2 billion and a contract to Pearson Government Solutions that first cost $104 million and skyrocketed to $741 million in less than one year.