A multibillion-dollar loophole that would have helped conceal abuse of overseas contracts has been eliminated from a Bush administration proposal to protect taxpayer dollars, according to documents obtained Monday by the Associated Press.
Reversing itself after months of criticism, the administration closed the loophole that was quietly slipped last year into a proposed Justice Department crackdown on government contract fraud.
The loophole specifically exempted contractors from reporting evidence of fraud or abuse in overseas work that cost taxpayers at least $5 million. An updated version of the proposal, drafted April 4, requires reporting on all contracts – whether at home or abroad.
Government policy writers said the original rule was drawn up quickly and chided the Justice Department for not explicitly making sure that overseas contracts should be included in the crackdown.
The draft was provided to the AP on the eve of a hearing by a House panel investigating whether the loophole was slipped into the crackdown at the request of lobbyists who represent giant global government contractors.
Council walks out on Kilpatrick
The City Council rebuffed embattled Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick’s attempts to propose a budget on Monday, the latest sign of increasingly frosty relations between the mayor and city leaders.
Kilpatrick, who is fighting perjury and other criminal charges, walked in to the Council chambers and greeted each member before he prepared to speak.
Council President Ken Cockrel then informed him that he and the other members had agreed not to hear from the mayor. He swiftly called for an end to the meeting, leaving Kilpatrick shocked and seemingly embarrassed.
“This could have been done in my office,” Kilpatrick told the Council before heading out into the hallway, where he called the council’s actions “childish.”
The relationship between Kilpatrick and the council has deteriorated for months. The panel voted 7-1 in March to ask Kilpatrick to resign.
Kilpatrick and former chief of staff Christine Beatty are awaiting a June 9 hearing on perjury, misconduct and obstruction of justice charges. Not guilty pleas have been entered for each. Kilpatrick has said he will be exonerated.