If you haven't seen it already, today's New York Times story about post-Katrina contracts byEric Lipton and Southern Exposure alumn Ron Nixon is a good one. They've culled through the government's first batch of documents about who's getting the money. Here's some of what they found:
More than 80 percent of the $1.5 billion in contracts signed by the Federal Emergency Management Agency alone were awarded without bidding or with limited competition, government records show, provoking concerns among auditors and government officials about the potential for favoritism or abuse.
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 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.
Didn't they learn anything in Iraq?
Meanwhile, the House Progressive Caucus went public with its letter today, calling upon the President to enforce the "responsible contractor" provisions of federal acquisition regulations by suspending Halliburton/KBR from any new contracts, based on their track record in Iraq and elsewhere. A good start.