Monday, September 26, 2005

Can You Say Iraq?
No bid contracts and Katrina

Soon after Bush opened the floodgates to funds for Katrina, some began to wonder if reconstruction in the Gulf Coast would follow the same pattern of failure and corruption as reconstruction in Iraq. The NYT reports today, the answer appears to be "yes." More than 80 percent of the $1.5 billion in contracts signed by the Federal Emergency Management Agency alone were awarded without bidding or with limited competition. The winners include the usual suspects, such as subsidiaries of Halliburton, the VP's old company that did such a sterling job of keeping costs down that it was required to return overbilling funds. Also included are companies that the former head of FEMA represents as a lobbyist. The NYT article points out:

"Already, questions have been raised about the political connections of two major contractors - the Shaw Group and Kellogg, Brown & Root, a subsidiary of Halliburton - that have been represented by the lobbyist Joe M. Allbaugh, President Bush's former campaign manager and a former leader of FEMA.

"When you do something like this, you do increase the vulnerability for fraud, plain waste, abuse and mismanagement," said Richard L. Skinner, the inspector general for the Department of Homeland Security, who said 60 members of his staff were examining Hurricane Katrina contracts. "We are very apprehensive about what we are seeing."

Bills have come in for deals that apparently were clinched with a handshake, with no documentation to back them up, said Mr. Skinner, who declined to provide details."

I have to agree with Mississippi Representative Bennie Thompson:

"There is just more of the good-old-boy system, taking care of its political allies," Mr. Thompson said. "FEMA and the others have put out these contracts in such a haphazard manner, I don't know how they can come up with anything that is accountable to the taxpayers."

How is it I'm not surprised?


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