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Millions of dollars in federal contracts for Hurricane Katrina recovery efforts that were handed out with little or no competition will be rebid to prevent any waste or abuse, according to an Associated Press report.
“I’ve been a public servant for a long time, and I’ve never been a fan of no-bid contracts,” said R. David Paulison of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to a Senate panel investigating the government agency’s response to the hurricane. “Sometimes you have to do them because of the expediency of getting things done.”
“All of those no-bid contracts, we are going to go back and rebid,” he said of pacts that were worth millions of dollars.
FEMA chief Paulison said after the hearing that he did not have a total figure for no-bid contracts that have been given, but said they include four agreements for $100 million each for housing and construction services awarded immediately after the storm hit. The government has been accused of overpaying for some contracts that were awarded with unusual haste in an effort to speed assistance to Katrina’s victims.
In the weeks after the storm, more than 80% of at least $1.5 billion in FEMA contracts were awarded with little or no competition, or had open-ended or vague terms that previous audits have cited as being highly prone to abuse.
Inspector General Richard Skinner of the Department of Homeland Security told a House subcommittee that 90% of the contracts awarded for debris removal in Mississippi were not put out for competitive bids.
He said the Army Corps of Engineers had four pre-existing contracts for debris removal, but those four could not handle the overwhelming devastation of the storm.