US: 70 percent of Katrina contracts awarded without full bidding

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Associated press

A U.S. House study has found that the government awarded 70 percent of its contracts for Hurricane Katrina work without full competition, wasting hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars in the process.

The report, released today by House Democrats, is a comprehensive overview of government audits on Katrina contracting. It found that out of ten point six (b) billion dollars in contracts awarded after the storm last year, more than seven point four (b) billion were handed out with limited or no competitive bidding.

The report also cited numerous instances of double-billing by contractors and cases of trailers meant as emergency housing sitting empty in Arkansas.

Aaron Walker is a national spokesman for the Homeland Security Department's Federal Emergency Management Agency, which is the primary agency for awarding hurricane contracts. Walker says FEMA was already working to improve its contracting process based on "previously issued, non-politicized, reports."

In their report, Democrats acknowledged that some no-bid contracts were necessary to provide quick aid in the immediate aftermath of the storm. But they noted that while 51 percent of Katrina contracts awarded in September were limited or no-bid, that percentage increased to 93 percent in October.

AMP Section Name:War & Disaster Profiteering