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Thursday, 27 July 2006 04:17

More Government Waste Cited in Bipartisan Report; Largely from No-Bid Contracts

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A new bipartisan report highlighting waste in Homeland Security contracts was released today by Reps. Tom Davis (R-VA) and Henry Waxman (D-CA), the Chairman and Ranking Member of the House Reform Committee. According to the study, noncompetitive contracts have grown over 700% in just three years, and the total value of the Department's wasteful contracts exceeds $34 billion.

"Boondoggle contracts may enrich private contractors, but they drive us deeper into debt and leave our borders unprotected and our ports and airlines vulnerable to attack," Waxman said at a hearing today on the problem. He cited the Bush Administration's "pattern of reckless spending, poor planning, and ineffective oversight."

The report identifies 32 contracts that have experienced significant overcharges, wasteful spending, or mismanagement. For example, $286 million was spent on airport radiation detectors that could not differentiate between weapons-grade nuclear material and much weaker producers of radioactivity, like cat litter and bananas. Homeland Security has since spent $1.2 billion on machines that have not demonstrated significant improvements.

After Hurricane Katrina, $236 million was spent on temporary housing for evacuees on Carnival Cruise Lines at a rate of more than $300 per person for each night. The government agreed to pay for the money the ships would have made under normal operating conditions despite the fact that Carnival did not incur its normal entertainment and navigational expenses.

Examples of wasteful spending on government credit cards included $68,000 for 2,000 sets of canine booties, $7,000 for Apple iPods, tens of thousands of dollars for training at golf and tennis resorts, and the purchase of beer brewing equipment and ingredients for Coast Guard Academy parties.

With Homeland Security noncompetitive contracts and spending surging in recent years, the report calls for an increase of trained officials to provide oversight and monitoring as well as an overhaul of the Department's acquisition management structure.

Click here to read the report (PDF)