Monday, May 04, 2009

Dollars And Sense

Yesterday I praised Defense Secretary Gates for his push to end unnecessary and expensive weapons projects. Today, I've found another costly area that needs his attention.

From the NY Times:

The Pentagon has done little to collect at least $100 million in overcharges paid in deals arranged by corrupt former officials of Kellogg Brown & Root, the defense contractor, even though the officials admitted much of the wrongdoing years ago, two senators have complained in a letter to Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates.

The letter also said that the Army had almost completely failed to move away from the monopolistic nature of the logistics contract that has paid the contractor, now called KBR, $31.3 billion for logistics operations in Iraq, Kuwait and Afghanistan.

The letter was written by Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-MO) and Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME), the chair and ranking member of the contracting oversight subcommittee of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, respectively.

The KBR officials in question admitted that they accepted bribes in dispensing work to subcontractors in Iraq whose bids were much higher than their competitors. The corruption was facilitated by the fact that KBR essentially has a monopoly when it comes to the work in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Kuwait. Congress, aware of the problem, ordered the Pentagon to set up a system of bidding with other companies capable of doing the work, but KBR has such a cozy relationship with the Pentagon that it still is receiving all of the work in Iraq, and much of it in the other two countries.

While it's possible that KBR has been passing money or favors to officials at the Pentagon, I think it's more likely that members of the contracting department are just taking the easy way out. They know the people at KBR, they've dealt with them for years: it's just simpler to hit speed dial than to put out a notice requesting bids and going through that complicated procedure.

It's time for Secretary Gates to end the laziness. Those are our dollars. We expect the government to use some sense in spending them.

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Anonymous PeasantParty said...

Great piece of work! I have to agree that it would save us money. Not to mention the fact that the jobs might be done right with alternative contractors. Surely they would not try to give the troops poisoned water.


7:09 AM  
Blogger the bewilderness said...

Where, oh where, is Bunny Greenhouse. We need her now, more than ever.

10:23 AM  

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