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Out of Our Minds
Monday, September 26, 2005 9:30 AM
How Do I Get a Piece of This?
Kevin Salwen on Ethics

Today's New York Times reports that more than 80 percent of the roughly $1.5 billion in contracts awarded by FEMA after Hurricane Katrina were done with no bids or limited competition. (Not surprisingly, a Halliburton subsidiary is part of the mix. 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 Republican Gov. Haley Barbour of Mississippi.)

'When you do something like this, you do increase the vulnerability for fraud, plain waste, abuse and mismanagement,' the Times quoted 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.'

In the wake of the scrutiny of government-awarded contracts in Iraq, maybe we were naive to think the bidding system might be different. Uh, yeah.


Pat - 9/28/2005 3:50:37 PM
One other comment.... if these contracts were to go out to bid, it would take at least 90 days to receive bids, then to consider and choose.
Do we have the time?
Pat - 9/28/2005 3:49:05 PM
Does the Shaw Group have any relationship (ownership/investmt) etc to Halliburton ?

Please respond. Thanks.
Kevin - 9/27/2005 4:37:43 PM
Romeo, Don't misread me on this. This isn't a Republican or Democrat issue. I am an equal opportunity disliker when it comes to cronyism.

While your point about short lists and urgency is valid, there also needs to be a process in which companies that don't have an automatic 'in' with the contract awarders can be selected.
Romeo Bravo - 9/27/2005 12:10:35 PM
Well, except for the fact that you would assume it's ONLY Republicans who are at fault. One of the contractors cited by the New York Times as having won contracts under shady circumstance is the Shaw Group, The Chairman and CEO of the Shaw Group James M. Bernhard Jr. is also chairman of the State Central Committee of the Louisiana Democratic Party.

But you won't see that in any newspaper. Bias anyone?

All the firms that are participating in Hurricane rebuilding have won contracts previously that allow them to be put on a list for use in situations where you don't have time time to wait six months for a bidding after the fact contract. Wasn't slow Federal government response an issue in this Hurricane? Well, they are acting quickly now.

As for Halliburton, KBR, etc. They are one of the biggest construction/management companies in the country. It's like being critical of General Electric for getting a contract on something. They are huge in the market and have a large market presence.

Leave your conspiracy theories to Oliver Stone, Kevin.


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