Obama Goes After Wasteful Government Contracts

March 4, 2009 12:00:00 AM PST
As lawmakers in Washington go on a spending spree trying to fix the ailing economy, a new focus is shining on government contracts. In going after wasteful government contracts, the president needs to look no further than his back lawn. The helicopters he flies on are getting old. But the contract to replace them has doubled in the last few years to more than $11-billion dollars.

The president wants to fix what he said is a broken government contracting process, making it more competitive.

"There is a fundamental trust we must uphold not to line pockets of projects that don't work," said Obama, "The days of giving defense contractors a blank check are over."

It's not just in defense. Experts said contracting across government is broken.

"It is a morass that needs to be fixed. A lot of presidents have tried, most have not succeeded," said Tom Schatz with Citizens Against Government Waste.

The effort comes as the president's Treasury Secretary is in the middle of three days of hearings on Capitol Hill answering questions from skeptical republicans.

"Republicans are determined to stand on the side of the American people. Democrats in this administration seem intent on standing on the side of more government and more taxes. Let the debate begin," said Mike Pence (R) Indiana.

The president hopes to save about $40-billion dollars a year by reforming government contracting. Experts say reform is needed: last year the federal government spent $500 billion dollars in contracting; a number that has doubled in just eight years.

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