WASHINGTON, DC – Congresswoman Carol Shea-Porter today introduced legislation that will help protect American service members by holding grossly negligent defense contractors accountable. Shea-Porter’s Safety in Defense Contracting Act would prevent defense contactors from receiving additional government contracts for five years if they are found guilty of causing serious injury or the death of government personnel by gross negligence or reckless disregard.
“Contractors who disregard the health and safety of our troops should not be awarded additional contracts,” said Congresswoman Shea-Porter. “The brave men and women who serve our country know that there are risks, but no service member should ever have to worry about being injured or killed because of shoddy contract work. I wrote this bill to protect our troops and to hold accountable contractors who place profits over safety.”
“In sponsoring the Safety in Defense Contracting Act, Representative Carol Shea-Porter is rightfully seeking to protect our members by holding those providing goods and services to the Department of Defense toaccountable safety standards,” said Peter J. Duffy, Deputy Legislative Director of the National Guard Association of the United States. “Defense contractors who recklessly or with gross negligence injure our military members must be appropriately penalized and removed from the defense contracting process.”
By holding contractors and subcontractors accountable, “this bill will ensure that the highest standards and best practices are used when providing services to our nation’s heroes,” said Paul Rieckhoff, Executive Director of the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America.
This legislation was prompted after Congresswoman Shea-Porter learned that defense contractors accused of producing defective work that endangered the lives of US soldiers were still being awarded multi-million dollar contracts. Shea-Porter immediately sent a letter to Secretary of Defense Robert Gates and urged the Secretary to review the matter.
The Associated Press reported in April that “a military team sent to evaluate electrical problems at U.S. facilities in Iraq determined there was a high risk that flawed wiring could cause further “catastrophic results”—namely, the electrocutions of U.S. soldiers.” According to the Associated Press, “at least three service members were electrocuted while showering at U.S. facilities in Iraq. Others have been injured or killed in electrical incidents.”
The Safety in Defense Contracting Act has been endorsed by the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, the Military Officers’ Association of America, the National Guard Association of the United States, and the Veterans of Foreign Wars.