House and Senate judiciary chairs call for GAO inquiry

The Chairmen of the House and Senate Judiciary Committees now want the General Accounting Office to launch an inquiry into the awarding federal monitoring contracts by the Justice Department.

The move is the latest salvo in a controversy that started over the revelation that New Jersey U.S. Attorney Chris Christie assigned John Ashcroft to a lucrative oversight contract for a medical implant company, worth up to $52 million.

U.S. Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Chairman of the Senate Judiciary, and his counterpart in the House, Michigan Rep. John Conyers (D-MI) wrote to Comptroller General David M. Walker requesting the inquiry.

“There appears to be little or no oversight of these contracts. Indeed, according to the Post, the award of these contracts and the fees paid to monitors are rarely approved by courts and rarely questioned by the companies subject to the monitoring because they fear reprisal,” they wrote.

Rep. Bill Pascrell (R-NJ), who wrote to Christie in November raising questions about the contract, applauded the decision.

“The mission of the GAO is to investigate cases of waste, fraud and abuse and the actions of federal prosecutors handing out no-bid contracts could certainly fit those criteria,” he said.

As policy, the U.S. Attorney’s office refers questions on congressional matters to the Justice Department.

House and Senate judiciary chairs call for GAO inquiry