Hope Yen at the AP has written an article based on a report by the Inspector General at Homeland Security that $3.6 billion in contracts were awarded to companies with ties to the Republican Party rather than to local companies, impacted by the Katrina/Rita hurricanes.

She quotes Senator Dorgan, who requested the audit, as saying:

“This confirms what we already knew about FEMA — there was a staggering level of incompetence, and the victims of Katrina, as well as taxpayers, are taking it on the chin,” Sen. Byron Dorgan (news, bio, voting record), D-N.D., who requested the audit, said Monday.

Dorgan, who chairs the Democratic Policy Committee, said that it was ironic that the new contracts were aimed at helping small businesses in the region get back on their
feet, but instead “some very big interests got some very lucrative contracts.”

“There are a lot of things wrong with this, so this report should be a warning signal to Homeland Security and FEMA,” he said.

Government investigators already estimate over $1 billion in losses due to waste.

FEMA’s response was:

In response, FEMA in the report disagreed that the wide price variations put taxpayers at risk. The agency contended that it was comfortable with bidders’ financial viability based in part on past performance. In cases where contract prices appeared unreasonably high, those would be offset with lower payments later on subsequent work orders, FEMA officials said.

FEMA spokesman Aaron Walker said Monday that the agency welcomed the audit’s findings and was working hard on improvements to better perform its duties “while being a conscientious steward of taxpayer dollars.” He said that FEMA contracting officers did a “remarkable job” given their short time frame.

The audit will assist in making “the new FEMA stronger, more flexible and cost-effective,” Walker said in a statement.

Full AP story with links to the Homeland Security report, here.

Both sides can argue, but one thing is apparent, which is we probably could have done a lot more for the victims with the resources we spent!

If mistakes like this ($1 billion and counting) were made at a private organization, do you think the people making them would still be employed?

Probably, not very likely! Perhaps, I could get “the Donald” to comment, but that’s not very likely, either.

The political climate on wasted government money is heating up. Recently, I blogged about $2 billion, allegedly wasted by a company (recently sold off by Halliburton) called KBR:

The case of an alleged $2 billion government contract fraud/abuse in Iraq/Afghanistan

In this case, it appears that we could have better served those, who are serving US!

Be Sociable, Share!