Tuesday, December 26, 2006

The All-too-familiar Accountability Gap

Chris in Paris, AmericaBlog: Poor records plague Bush AIDS effort. As in, a complete mess and no organization. For a group that really liked telling everyone how superior they were and that promoted their wealth of professional experience, their incompetence scans the globe. Whether the issue is Iraq, Katrina, foreign aid, you name it, the stories are always the same and always include failure, lack of a plan, disorganized and often money being skimmed.

Investigators found the three-year-old, $15-billion program has overcounted and undercounted thousands patients it helped or was unable to verify claims of success by local groups that took U.S. money to prevent the spread of disease or care for AIDS victims and their children.

The Bush administration says it has worked to fix the problems that were found in multiple countries and outlined in several audits reviewed by The Associated Press.

"It's not good enough for the auditors to hear from the mission that we did A, B and C but we can't prove it to you, or there's no documentation to prove that we did it," said Joe Farinella, a top watchdog inside the U.S. Agency for International Development.

So tell me again how the Democrats just throw money at a problem but the GOP somehow does it right. Another myth goes down the drain as the GOP shows us again why they can't be trusted with anything. Bring on the hearings and investigations, please.

Barbara O'Brien, Crooks & Liars: Investigations have [also] revealed the Bush Administration wasted more than $2 billion of the money allocated for Katrina, the Associated Press reports today. Much of this waste is the result of lucrative contracts awarded with little or no competition. Hope Yen of the AP writes:

Federal investigators have already determined the Bush administration squandered $1 billion on fraudulent disaster aid to individuals after the 2005 storm. Now they are shifting their attention to the multimillion dollar contracts to politically connected firms that critics have long said are a prime area for abuse.

In January, investigators will release the first of several audits examining 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.

Democrats in Congress are vowing closer oversight of the Katrina reconstruction debacle. Let's hope.

However, today's news isn't exactly news. Last August the House Committee on Government Reform Minority Office (that means Democrats) released a report titled “Waste, Fraud, and Abuse in Hurricane Katrina Contracts.” Here are key findings from a press release. (Read the rest of this story…)

And not to be outdone (anyone seeing a pattern here?), The Washington Post reports – Interior, Pentagon Faulted In Audits:

The Defense Department paid two procurement operations at the Department of the Interior to arrange for Pentagon purchases totaling $1.7 billion that resulted in excessive fees and tens of millions of dollars in waste, documents show.

Defense turned to Interior, which manages federal lands and resources, in an effort to speed up its contracting. Interior is one of several government agencies allowed to manage contracts for other agencies in exchange for a fee.

But the arrangement between Interior and Defense "routinely violated rules designed to protect U.S. Government interests," according to draft audit documents obtained by The Washington Post.

More than half of the contracts examined were awarded without competition or without checks to determine that the prices were reasonable, according to the audits by the inspectors general for Defense (DOD) and Interior (DOI). Ninety-two percent of the work reviewed was awarded without verifying that the contractors' cost estimates were accurate; 96 percent was inadequately monitored. (Read the full story here.)

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