September 26, 2005

The Gulf Coast relief effort.

It's starting to look more and more like the reconstruction of Iraq. You remember: the effort supervised by the Coalition Provisional Authority that was characerized by no-bid contracts to US companies which then provided goods and services at inflated costs — if they actually bothered to do any work at all.

An examination of US$ 1.5 billion worth of contracts awarded by FEMA shows that more than 80 percent of these contracts were awarded without bidding or with limited competition. The door appears to be wide open for cronyism and sweetheart deals. And yes, Halliburton has gotten some of the work.

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....

Some industry and government officials questioned the costs of the debris-removal contracts, saying the Army Corps of Engineers had allowed a rate that was too high. And Congressional investigators are looking into the $568 million awarded to AshBritt, a Pompano Beach, Fla., company that was a client of the former lobbying firm of Gov. Haley Barbour of Mississippi.

The investigators are asking how much money AshBritt will collect and, in turn, what it will pay subcontractors performing the work, said a House investigator who did not want her name used because she was not authorized to speak publicly about the matter.

The contracts also show considerable price disparities: travel trailers costing $15,000 to $23,000, housing inspection services that documents suggest could cost $15 to $81 per home, and ferries and ships being used for temporary housing that cost $13 million to $70 million for six months.

Via NY Times.

Posted by Magpie at September 26, 2005 11:43 AM | Corruption & Graft | Technorati links |