Obama Administration Plan to Open Contractor Database to Public Fails to Provide Full Access to Responsibility Histories

For Immediate Release

Contact: 

Keith Rutter
Phone: 202-347-1122
Email: pogo@pogo.org

Obama Administration Plan to Open Contractor Database to Public Fails to Provide Full Access to Responsibility Histories

WASHINGTON - The
Obama administration’s plan to provide public access to a database tracking
contractor and grantee responsibility performance falls short of the
transparency the president had promised, the Project On Government Oversight
(POGO) said today.

The interim rule (.pdf) for the Federal Awardee Performance and Integrity Information
System (FAPIIS) continues to keep important information about past contractor
misconduct out of the public’s view, said Scott Amey, POGO’s general counsel.

“The
FAPIIS interim rule just shows how the administration is caving in to
contractors,” Amey said. “This whole process has been an exercise in foot
dragging and concealment of information rather than increasing transparency.
Despite the new law passed last summer making FAPIIS public, government
officials have proceeded too timidly—asking permission at each step—before
making public the information about trillions of tax dollars spent on contracts
and grants each year.”

Although the database will premiere sometime after April 15,
the public will have to wait until contractors file semi-annual reports later
this year before seeing the full extent of FAPIIS. Until that time, FAPIIS
information will only be available via the Freedom of Information Act, subject
to objections raised by contractors pursuant to Executive Order 12600.

FAPIIS provides government officials with information needed
to make informed pre-award contracting and grant decisions. The system allows
the government to avoid risky contractors and grantees, especially those with
repeated histories of misconduct or poor performance.

All FAPIIS data, including past performance information not
directly implicating genuine proprietary or privacy interests, should be
publicly posted to enhance contractor and grantee accountability and
transparency. Despite public access to FAPIIS, past performance information
will be concealed. Furthermore, industry is lining up with arguments for a
number of additional types of information to be withheld from the public.

FAPIIS, which is based on POGO’s Federal Contractor Misconduct Database, was created through the leadership of Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.),
as well as the bipartisan work of Reps. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) and Edolphus Towns (D-N.Y.), and Sens. Claire
McCaskill (D-Mo.), Carl Levin (D-Mich.), and John McCain (R-Ariz.). Sen. Bernie
Sanders (I-Vt.) introduced the provision that provides public access to FAPIIS.

To read more about FAPIIS, visit POGO’s blog:

Federal Government Becoming a Contractor Grievance Department, January 24, 2010.

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The Project On Government Oversight (POGO) is an independent nonprofit that investigates and exposes corruption and other misconduct in order to achieve a more effective, accountable, open and honest federal government.

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