Friday, December 22, 2006
No more HQ money for use in avoiding environmental compliance?
Perhaps this can be posted on its own. I've noticed that the State of New Mexico is getting bold at fining the lab for its little messes. Is this because the Lab had to stop its use of headquarters monies to finance any of its legal forays? I heard the story that the lab, in the past, would spend $100,000 of HQ money to contest a $10,000 fine that would otherwise come from the LANL budget. The worm has turned and the lab is now properly responsible for pollution, at least.
--Pat, the Dog
Think about it for a moment. Bechtel, KBR, and Shaw - all companies with ethical problems. And now, all three are involved in the day-to-day operations at LANL.
It appears that privatization has opened LANL's doors to the wolves.
Katrina fraud likely to balloon past $1B - Associated Press, Dec 25, 2006
WASHINGTON - Already at $1 billion, the tally for Hurricane Katrina waste will balloon next year as investigators shift their attention from fraudulent aid to the lucrative government contracts awarded with little competition.
Several of the contracts were hastily given to politically connected firms in the aftermath of the 2005 storm and were extended without warning months later. Critics say the arrangements promote waste and unfairly hurt small companies.
In January, federal investigators will release the first of several audits examining abuse in more than $12 billion in Katrina contracts. The charges range from political favoritism to limited opportunities for small and minority-owned firms, which initially got only 1.5 percent of the total work.
Currently, half of the government's contracts valued at $500,000 or greater are no-bid.
"Based on their track record, it wouldn't surprise me if we saw another billion more in waste," said Clark Kent Ervin, the
Homeland Security Department's inspector general from 2003-2004. "I don't think sufficient progress has been made."
He called it inexcusable that the Bush administration would still have so many no-bid contracts, noting that auditors and
Federal Emergency Management Agency director David Paulison himself have said they are prime areas for waste.
"It's a combination of laziness, ineptitude and it may well be nefarious," Ervin said.
Among the current investigations:
• The propriety of four no-bid contracts together worth $400 million to Shaw Group Inc., Bechtel Group Inc., CH2M Hill Companies Ltd., and Fluor Corp. that were awarded without competition.
The contracts drew immediate criticism because of the companies' extensive political and government ties, prompting a promise last year from Paulison to rebid them. Instead, FEMA rebid only a portion and then extended their contracts once, if not twice — to $3.4 billion total — so the firms could finish their remaining Katrina work.
The four companies, which have denied that connections played a factor, were among six that also won new contracts after open bidding in August. The latest contracts are worth up to $250 million each for future disaster work.