Contracting officers too close to vendors, says chairman

Wednesday - 2/2/2011, 7:12pm EST

From "Contracting officers get too friendly with contractors, senator says" by Matthew Weigelt at Washington Technology:

Contracting officers should stick to auditors' conclusions on contract pricing to keep the officers' perhaps impaired judgment out of the negotiations, Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) has said.

The former state auditor from Missouri said Feb. 1 that contracting officers lose objectivity because they get too friendly with the contractors they oversee and build connections with the companies as business partners, and therefore lighten up on tough independent supervision. Auditors don't have that relationship, which makes them stick to their impartiality in ways the contracting officer could not, she said.

"Contracting officers have an ongoing relationship with the contractors that sometimes impact their ability to see everything clearly as it relates to some of the behavior of the contractors," said McCaskill, chairwoman of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee's Contracting Oversight Subcommittee. During a hearing, McCaskill also conceded she was biased toward auditors.

I played highlights of the hearing on the show today. Click here to watch the entire hearing.