Wednesday, January 30, 2008

New Legislation Concerning Military Contractors Draws Presidential Signing Statement

Laura Dickinson

The President just signed the Defense Authorization Act, which has two provisions that are relevant to contractor accountability. The first, section 841, added through an amendment sponsored by Senators Webb and McCaskill, would establish an independent commission to study the waste, fraud, and abuse in wartime contracting. The second, section 846, would improve whistleblower protection for contractor employees who report abuses by contractors.

The only wrinkle, however, is that the President issued one of his infamous signing statements, singling out these and two other provisions that the White House says "purport to impose requirements that could inhibit the President’s ability to carry out his constitutional obligations to take care that the laws be faithfully executed, to protect national security, to supervise the executive branch, and to execute his authority as Commander in Chief." According to the statement, "[t]he executive branch shall construe such provisions in a manner consistent with the constitutional authority of the President."

Senator Webb has said that he’ll nonetheless move forward quickly to establish the commission.


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