Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Investigators to Monitor Katrina Contracts

But wait for the punchline. They'll all be members of the Bush administration.

You know those guys who have blown over 200 billion in mostly nonbid contracts to campaign contributors in Iraq.

The 30 Homeland Security Department investigators and auditors are part of what officials call an unprecedented effort to ensure federal funds are properly distributed in a rescue, relief and rebuilding process expected to exceed $100 billion.

...

The team is being dispatched to monitor government contractors' work in Alabama, Louisiana and Mississippi as critics call the spending deluge a disaster in waiting if not properly controlled.

``The message has gone out very clearly to everybody that we're going to be efficient, we're going to cut through red tape, but we're not going to cut though the laws,'' Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff said Tuesday.

Yet many of the normal safeguards have been temporarily suspended in Katrina's wake to ensure emergency federal aid gets to victims as soon as possible. So far, Congress has approved spending $62 billion in Katrina-related relief efforts. Of $50 billion directed to the Federal Emergency Management Agency, an arm of Homeland Security, just over $9 billion has so far been spent, FEMA spokeswoman Natalie Rule said.

Hopefully some people with spines slip into that team.

Interestingly:
The Homeland Security investigators are part of a $15 million effort by the department's inspector general that Congress approved last week to keep an eye on Katrina relief spending.


Most disturbingly a deal with Halliburton to rebuild a struck naval base was signed before the people of New Orleans got federal help, but the Administration says that was actually part of an ongoing contract.

But, no surprise here, guess who else got a big no bid contract from FEMA according to this report. Yes, it's Bechtel*, the people who have nearly completely failed to bring relief to Baghdad and most of Iraq, while they, meantimes, continue to blame everyone else but themselves. They were also called in to help on September 1, 2005 . (The first federal relief rolled into New Orleans on Friday September 2, 2005 in time to look good for the President's first visit to show what a great guy he is.)

The article also says that Bechtel is even renegotiating it's contract after starting their efforts. You know that's going to be expensive. Big campaign contributions for Republicans going out next year thanks to you, dear taxpayer.

And BTW:
Generally, Katrina contractors ``will be given the benefit of the doubt,'' Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Sen. Thad Cochran, R-Miss., said.

Now that I can believe.

Read rest of article at:Investigators to Monitor Katrina Contracts

From a Washington Post article we find that one brave Senator (Susan Collins (R-Maine) may (okay not that brave. "May I Mr. Rove?") call for an Inspector General over all the spending. I hope that's not vapor politics.

and article reports:
The last time the government spent a massive amount of money under emergency conditions, for the war in Iraq, it set off a frenzy among contractors jockeying for work. Investigators with the special inspector general's office set up to oversee Iraq spending later found numerous cases of questionable costs.

Testify!

Also according to the Post, one of the contracts already set (and results seen) is that the homicidal killers of Blackwater Inc. have been hired for security. Reports have already been coming out about that situation, and I'm glad to see mainstream confirmation of that news, not that I don't trust the source, but many in the US might question a news source they don't know.
Last week FEMA gave out hundreds of millions of dollars worth of contracts to engineering and construction firms to build an estimated 300,000 temporary housing units...without competition under rules that allow agencies to bypass...companies that have been major financial supporters of the Bush administration. One firm, Shaw Group Inc., of Baton Rouge, is on the client list of lobbyist and former FEMA director Joe M. Allbaugh...

Shaw also was picked last week by the corps for a $100 million contract, with one of its first tasks to pump floodwater out of New Orleans.


Article also says that rampant privatizing of FEMA's duties has happened.

Some support can be seen for privatizing the intermittent disaster needs, but report continues saying the planning and policymaking so that top FEMA jobs could be handed out to political appointees like Brown. The best and brightest in FEMA under Clinton are gone. The result being that the Governor of La had to hire Clinton's FEMA director to help her get through to the people in Bush's FEMA.

Even the inspector general for DHS noted last spring that FEMA might not be ready for a major disaster!


But according to FEMA, everything is going great! Somehow all the disaster in the US since 2001 is just coming up roses.

But we saw the results in the Katrina disaster of the excessive privatization to reward political allies! We don't need to be paying Bush's buddies huge salaries to get inferior disaster planning and response.

FEMA used to work well under Clinton. Ask yourself what happened.

No wonder they took a thousand firefighters who had volunteered to save people in Gulf region, trained them, and set them loose, passing out leaflets for the agency. They'll need all that propaganda to save the Bush White House after this. See: Washington Post

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