Spurred by the arrest this week of four government contractors, Sens. Olympia Snowe and Mary Landrieu urged the House Wednesday to move quickly to approve a bipartisan measure aimed at curbing federal contracting fraud.
The appeal from Snowe, R-Maine, and Landrieu, D-La., came after federal officials arrested four Northern Virginia-based contractors on Tuesday who allegedly cheated the Army Corps of Engineers out of at least $20 million through fraudulent charges.
“Our justice system will decide if they are guilty, but even the possibility underscores the need for legislation to combat all types of fraud and abuse in the federal contracting system,” said Landrieu, who chairs the Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship. “I urge my colleagues in the House to bring up and quickly pass this necessary legislation that will give the [Small Business Administration] and the inspector general the necessary tools to combat fraud.”
Snowe, the ranking GOP member of the panel, said in a joint statement with Landrieu that “it is imperative that the House” pass the Small Business Contracting Fraud Prevention Act, which passed the Senate unanimously two weeks ago.
Snowe noted the recent testimony of SBA Inspector General Peg Gustafson, who told the Senate panel that bill would act as deterrent to contract fraud and make prosecution of contractors who lie or mislead the government a lot easier.
“I hope that the House will swiftly pass our legislation to ensure that the SBA’s IG and other Federal agencies have the resources and tools necessary to investigate and combat future allegations of fraud,” she said.
The fraud prevention act would give the SBA more oversight and monitoring authority in its contracting process and world provide for tougher enforcement activities and penalties against businesses suspected of obtaining government contracts under false pretenses.
The bill has broad bipartisan support in the Senate, where it was cosponsored by at least 14 members equally divided along party lines.
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