Feds' Rampant Use of No-Bid Contracts the Essence of Corruption

David Williams | The Hill | August 1, 2017

Secretary of Veterans Affairs (VA) David Shulkin just awarded a contract worth billions of dollars to Cerner, a health technology company. Secretary Shulkin, who was seeking a firm to build the VA's new electronic health records system, awarded the contract without even considering proposals from other companies.

Such "no-bid" contracts are an outrage. Companies seeking the government's business should compete on price and quality — just like firms that operate exclusively in the private sector. Foregoing healthy market competition and pre-selecting winners wastes money and encourages fraud and abuse.

Federal law requires "full and open competition" for most government procurements. Here's how the bidding process traditionally works. The government publicly announces its need for a specific product or service — such as a year's worth of public-school lunches or a new naval vessel. Companies submit sealed proposals, and the government chooses the lowest-cost, highest-quality bidder...