Michael McCaul Drops the Ball, Part Two: The Role of a Congressman

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Earlier this week, I wrote about how Michael McCaul's negligence in his duties as Congressman for the 10th Congressional District has, most likely, led to the loss of thousands of jobs in his district. While McCaul's office has tried to claim that they were “blindsided” by the announcement and that they have had “regular” communications with the Department of Defense, there are no facts to back up their claims.

From my post, Michael McCaul Drops the Ball, Loses 3,000 Texas Jobs, we know that:

  1. The DoD has no record of McCaul contacting the DoD during the contract review process. (Source: DOD Freedom of Information Act Request, 10/14/2009)
  2. McCaul did not appear before the House Budget Committee on “Member's Day” to advocate for the plant. (Source: House Budget Committee Witness List )
  3. McCaul has never spoken on the floor of the House on behalf ofthe BAE contract. (Source: Library of Congress)
  4. McCaul has not issued any statements or press releases supporting BAE prior to news of the lost contract. (Source: McCaul Website)

McCaul's biggest defense — that he was “blindsided” and that is why he should not be held responsible — is incredibly weak. Libby Shaw, writing at Texas Kaos, goes into terrific detail about the role of a Congressman, and how McCaul's failure to publicly advocate for the BAE Systems plant and his apparent unwillingness to fight for their contract renewal is exclusively and unequivocably his fault.

From Texas Kaos, Libby Shaw pens an excellent piece about the role of a Congressman, titled, “How Texas Lost 10,000 Jobs“:

As an administrator for a scientific laboratory at an academic institution that is awarded a great number of federal grants, I can tell you that if BAE System's executives, Rick Perry, Michael McCaul, John Cornyn and Kay Bailey Hutchison forgot about the potential for a 10,000 job loss in Texas, all are grossly and hopelessly negligent.  

It is up to the recipient of the funding award to know when the funding will run dry.  Grants are awarded for specific periods of time whether it is for five or twenty five years. At academic institutions is up to administrators and the principle investigators (the professors) to do due diligence and prepare renewal requests for ongoing funding when a grant dries up.  The renewals are always competitive.  Everyone who receives federal funding of any sort should know this.  There is always going to be another PI or another company that wants the same money that has been awarded to you.  And they will fight like hell to get it.  The PIs and companies have to fight like hell to win the award again.

When a grant is about to dry up few funding agencies will send notifications.  They don't have to.  Admins. and PIs know when the money will run out because when it does we have to find new sources of money to pay research scientists and staff salaries, fund grad student stipends and education, undergrad summer research internships and buy lab equipment. In academe we frequently refer to this process as the grant grind.

A federal funding agency will sometimes send an email notification when they are soliciting new proposals but not always.  It us up to the administrators and PIs to find out when proposals are being solicited and to stay on top of when the funding will come to an end.  During the term of the funding we have to submit annual reports to the funding agency that discloses financial expenditures and research outcomes and achievements.  The funding agency has to report to the Congress how it is spending the people's money.

Where federal grants are concerned it is up to the PI to contact his/her U.S. Representative to inform him/her about a proposal submission and the outcome it promises (i.e. more jobs in Houston, more students in the fields science and engineering, the potential for job creation outside the academic institution).  It should be the job of the U.S. Rep. to do due diligence and lobby for the companies and academic institutions within his/her district. Like the PIs and company executives Representatives should fight like hell in Washington to bring the bacon home to their district.

And this is where Michael McCaul and Senators Hutchison and Cornyn failed miserably. Not only did all fail to fight for the bacon and its 10,000 jobs, all completely forgot about it.  

You should really go over to Texas Kaos and read the whole piece. It is excellent, worth your time, and shows just how much this whole thing really is Michael McCaul's fault.

Next Monday, December 14, we will know the final fate of the contract for BAE Systems. Hopefully, the lobbying that has been done recently by Democrats Chet Edwards and Bill White will result in the opportunity for BAE Systems to renew their contract, or at least bid for it again (or at least find another contract where thousands of Texans won't lose their jobs). We'll be sure to let our readers know the result of next Monday's decision.


About Author

Phillip Martin

Currently the Research and Policy Director for Progress Texas and the Texas Research Institute, Phillip Martin writes occasional long-form pieces for BOR that promote focused analysis and insight into Texas politics. Born and raised in Austin, Phillip started working in politics in 2003 and started writing on BOR in the summer of 2005. Phillip has worked for the Texas Democratic Trust, the Texas Legislative Study Group, and now the Progress Texas family. He is a lifelong Houston Astros fan, a loyal Longhorn, and loves swimming at Barton Springs Pool.


  1. One point…
    Does anyone who has done Defense Contracting work understand the difference between Defense Contracts and Grants???

    I'm not sure that the above paragraph has any validity in this matter because this is not a grant proposal for research but an actual Defense Contract for the production and delivery of vehicles to the United States Army.

    • Yes
      One of my colleagues used to work for a firm that received a lot of DOD contracts.  The difference is instead of having to write annual accountability reports, an federal inspector is on sight.  Other than that renewals/bid processes are pretty much the same.  Both are competitive.

      Another difference is that a bid will go out if the Army, for example, requests additional or new equipment.  Some contracts are also awarded and extended on a year to year basis.  Federal grants are usually awarded on a five year basis.  

      BAE knew in 2007 that the Army was seeking bids.

  2. TexianPolitico on

    Defense spending?
    Since when do we progressives care about defense spending? Phillip, you sound like a damn warhawk crying about the need for defense spending in CD-10! I'm sure that Rep. Doggett can get the Obama administration to provide more jobs to Texas through the stimulus funds and that will more than make up for this program that was about killing people. We don't need to worry about defense related jobs. Pres. Obama is fixing our economy and we'll soon have full employment. Just you wait.

  3. I did not realize that . . .
    military contracts are rewarded on  advocacy vs. the bid.  Did McCaul bid too high?  If McCaul did every thing you say he should have done and the bid was higher then they take the higher bid?  


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