Monday, September 12, 2005

Why Haven't U.S. Papers Reported That GAO Will Audit Federal Contracts For Gulf Coast?

The Observer of London reported yesterday that the Government Accounting Office, the non-partisan investigative arm of Congress, will audit federal contracts awarded for the Katrina rebuilding effort.

But here's a funny thing. No U.S. papers have reported this, according to two Google News searches (check here and here.)

A lot of newspapers are doing great investigative work in covering Katrina and its aftermath. But this is an important story, too, and deserves to be written about by the U.S. press.


Many newspapers have reported on the federal contracts that were quickly handed out for repairing New Orleans' flood levees, rebuilding naval facilities, providing temporary housing and removing debris.

The GAO angle is equally important. As the Observer points out, "the Department of Defense was criticized for awarding Iraq reconstruction contracts to (Bechtel and Halliburton) without competition."

Rep. Henry Waxman (D-CA), who led much of the investigation into the Iraq reconstruction contracts, said of the need for the audit: "The administration has an abysmal contracting record in Iraq. We can't afford to make the same mistakes again. We must make sure taxpayer funds are not wasted, because every dollar thrown away today is a dollar that is not available to hurricane victims and their families."


Two more views on the federal contracts:

"They are throwing money out, they are shoveling it out the door," James Albertine, a Washington lobbyist and past president of the American League of Lobbyists, told the New York Times for a Sept. 9 story. "I'm sure every lobbyist's phone in Washington is ringing off the hook from his clients. Sixty-two billion dollars is a lot of money -- and it's only a down payment."

Danielle Brian, director of the Project on Government Oversight, a nonprofit government spending watchdog group, told the Times that Katrina, like Iraq before it, would bring the greedy and the self-interested out of the woodwork.

"You are likely to see the equivalent of war profiteering -- disaster profiteering," she said.


Here's who has been awarded contracts thus far:

Bechtel National Inc., of San Francisco, is working under an informal agreement with no set payment terms, scope of work or designated total value.

To provide immediate housing in the region, FEMA says it suspended normal bidding rules in awarding contracts to the Shaw Group and CH2MHill, based in Denver. Dewberry Technologies, of Fairfax, Va.; is doing similar work under a long-standing FEMA contract that allows the agency to turn to them during disasters.

Fluor, of Aliso Viejo, Calif., will be paid to select sites in Louisiana for temporary housing, surveying parks, campgrounds and farmland.

Halliburton, Kellogg Brown & Root's parent company, has a $500 million, five-year contract with the Navy to provide emergency repairs at military installations damaged in the hurricane. The company won the contract by competitive bid in 2004 after several other hurricanes lashed the region. Under terms of the contract, Halliburton draws down on the money as it performs services for the military.

The Shaw Group, based in Baton Rouge, is a $3-billion-a-year construction and engineering firm. It announced this week that it had received two $100 million contracts, one from FEMA, the other from the Corps of Engineers, to work on levees and to pump water out of New Orleans. The one-year contracts are renewable.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I suppose it would have caused you too much pain to note that the Shaw Group is headed by the leader of the Louisiana Democratic party.

10:03 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

And Bechtel is headed by George Schultz. Funny that JABBS didn't mention that, either, anonymous.

Why? Because that's not the point of the story.

10:09 AM  
Anonymous jamal said...

Not surprisingly they're hiding these factors. They did this in Iraq and Afghanistan to!

8:58 PM  
Blogger Ol Cranky said...

why haven't they reported it? probably because every time the GAO does an audit of Bushevikian contracts like these, they find wrong-doing and yet not a damned thing happens as a result.

12:29 PM  

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