One of the bills that’s still likely to come up in the lame duck session is the 2011 Defense Authorization Act. It includes the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” repeal language and it’s generally considered a must-pass bill (it’s been 48 years since Congress has failed to pass the annual Defense bill).
It’s a big bill — 981 pages authorizing about $725 billion in spending — and since it’s considered essential legislation to keep the Defense Department functioning there’s often a lot of controversial stuff that gets thrown into it without thorough vetting. The American Small Business League is raising a red flag on Sec. 815 of this year’s bill, which they say would “create ‘de facto’ debarments of small businesses across DoD federal contracting programs, with potential for these ‘de facto’ debarments to touch every corner of federal government contracting, thus creating a blacklist where businesses would be debarred from working with the government.”
The section is titled, “Reduction of supply chain risk in the acquisition of national security systems.” Basically, it empowers two people in the DoD — the Director of the Defense Intelligence Agency and the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Networks and Information Integration — to decide that a company poses “an unacceptable supply chain risk” and then block that company from being awarded government contracts. The bill specifically states that debarments under the provision would be exempt from disclosure under the Freedom of Information Act and review by the Government Accountability Office or federal court. Congress would be shown a “statistical summary” of how many companies have been blocked from working with the government, but they would not be told which companies have been blocked and why.
Read the whole article here.