I write today to support Councilmember Kenyan McDuffie, Chairman of the Committee on Government Operations, in his effort to pass a campaign finance reform bill that includes repealing council votes on contracts over $1 million. For the past 11 months, I have taken a stand against this federally mandated Council requirement, and voted “present” on contracts that come before us. Continuous interference with the procurement process by the Council leads to an appearance of corruption that taints the Council’s credibility.
I am concerned that the contracting and procurement process is degraded and not enhanced by councilmembers voting on every contract over $1 million. The main purpose of contracting and procurement is to have a confidential process to ensure that the bids submitted for approval are shielded from political influence. The contract should be awarded to the company that presents the best bid and not simply to the company that has the most political connections. Throughout my time on the Council I have executed strong oversight of contracts being awarded by the Mayor’s agencies. I have met with all interested parties and required follow-up reporting once the contracts have been awarded. I will continue to demand vigorous oversight of every contract as it is implemented.
We must ensure that the contracting process in the District of Columbia is fair and efficient.
We also must ensure that councilmembers do not have the opportunity to improperly influence the contracting process to benefit their friends and campaign donors.