Dennett promises accountability, better prices

Paul Denett, Office of Federal Procurement Policy administrator nominee, promised to be vigilant in assuring that the government gets the best prices on services it procures.

At his nomination hearing today in front of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, Denett also said he would support developing a database that contains information on all the government's contracts as an effort to improve transparency, competition and performance.

'It is a major concern that we don't have an accurate account of the number of contracts,' Denett said.

The White House nominated Denett in April to replace David Safavian, who resigned in October just prior to being arrested on charges of obstructing a federal investigation and making false statements under oath.

During the hearing, committee chairwoman Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) said OFPP has become 'too passive' in both setting measurable performance standards and establishing sound contingency contracting policies during emergencies.

In particular, Collins and Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) cited billions of dollars in government waste in contracts signed in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina and in the Iraq reconstruction.

'We need to set up systems so we can truly measure performance,' Coburn said. 'We're running out of money.'

Denett said he would work to improve the Federal Procurement Data System-Next Generation, a database that collects and develops information about federal procurement contracts. The Government Accountability Office said last year that the system contains inaccurate data.

He also said he would support the Office of Management and Budget's competitive sourcing agenda but that he was against setting arbitrary goals or targets for contracting out government work.

Collins could not estimate when Denett's nomination would come to the full committee for a vote, but she said after the hearing she does not expect any controversy.

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