Post-Katrina Work Marred by Waste and Corruption

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, according to a House of Representatives study released by Democrats. The report, a comprehensive overview of government audits on Katrina contracting, found that out of $10.6 billion in contracts awarded by June 2006, more than $7.4 billion were handed out with limited or no competitive bidding. While no-bid contracts were justifiable to provide quick aid in the immediate aftermath of the storm, their share of contracts awarded grew from 51 percent in September to 93 percent in October 2005. In December, FEMA was still awarding 57 percent of the total dollar value of contracts without full bidding. In the House report, Democrats faulted FEMA for recently awarding new $400 million temporary housing contracts for future disaster work to Shaw Environmental & Infrastructure, Bechtel National, CH2M Hill Inc. and Fluor Enterprises Inc. Those four companies have previously been criticized by lawmakers for receiving no-bid Katrina contracts. Three of them—Bechtel, CH2M Hill and Fluor—were found by government auditors to have wasted money in the hurricane effort. But they are politically well-connected.