Bid Goodbye to Earmarks

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The elimination of earmarks in the 2007 budget should mean more open competition for federal funds, according to a memo from the U.S. Office of Management and Budget.

The memo appears to address some confusion created when Congress passed a fiscal 2007 budget through a “continuing resolution,” which basically extends the 2006 budget. But while the 2006 budget was chock-full of earmarks, Congress virtually wiped them out in 2007. (See “Washington’s No-Pork Diet,” February.)

The Feb. 15 memo for federal department and agency heads urges competitive bidding, saying that federal regulations call for “full and open competition in soliciting offers and awarding Government contracts.”

The memo also says that “unless a project or activity is specifically identified in statutory text, agencies should not obligate funds” based on previous earmarking. That would appear to enable agencies to continue funding such groups as the Boys & Girls Clubs of America, whose funding, although commonly called an earmark, is appropriated under a legislative act.