Thursday, September 30


Center for Public Integrity issues report:

A new report finds the Defense Department now spends half of its entire budget on private contractors. The study also found that the top 50 contractors received more than half of all the money and were more likely to get contracts without competitive bidding.

In fact, the report states that 44% of the contracts are let without bidding.

Now, I find this remarkable, perhaps because I know just a little something about government and contractors. In my case, I am a marketing executive of a Fortune 250 company that, among its business lines, owns and operates one of the nation's top building contractors. We've built for the U.S. government, state and local governments for more than a half century, constructing VA hospitals, courthouses, schools, military facilities of all types (including housing, aeronautical and rocket testing, memorials, bases, etc.), structures for the CIA, FBI, NASA -- I could go on an on, but you get the point. The competitive bidding process in nearly all these cases was so structured, so expensive to participate in and so difficult, that today we are striving to do less and less work with governments and positioning ourselves to do "negotiated" work with the private sector almost exclusively. It is incomprehensible to me that nearly half of the military's contract work is now being awarded absent the competitive bidding process...and it makes me very suspicious that something underhanded and corrupt is taking place.

The excuse that corporate mergers have resulted in very few companies having the capabilities to perform the work doesn't hold water. When we bid for a contract, it is customary for the client, on the basis of returned RFP's (Request For Proposal), to select a small number of companies for their "short list." It is between these few that the real competition takes place. We are challenged to answer a zillion questions, from our detailed estimates of the costs of every aspect of the project to the names and experience of the exact team that will oversee the project. It is a rigorous procedure, and when we don't win, the money expended is lost. So what if there really WERE very few companies with the appropriate capabilities? Those that there are, should still be subject to the competitive bid process. In the end, it's the only way to prevent charges of cryonism corruption.

While I'm at it, it often bothers me that Cheney is usually accused of an ongoing connection with Halliburton because of his deferred compensation, which is chickenfeed and insured at that. That's not the real issue. It's his 433,000 stock options that should be called into question. Cheney SAYS he intends to donate the proceeds of them to charity once he's exercised them. Does anyone really want to trust him on that? If he meant it, why hasn't he exercised them already and donated them to charity? I suspect he intends to wait until after he's no longer VP -- then nobody can hold him to it.


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