Iraq postwar contracts cause fracas
WASHINGTON - Senior Democratic lawmakers have requested an official review of how US government contracts to rebuild postwar Iraq were being awarded to a group of US firms.
They also asked for an investigation into allegations that preferential treatment had been extended to Halliburton Co., once run by Vice President Dick Cheney.
The demands were set out in two letters to the government oversight body, the General Accounting Office.
They were signed by the House of Representatives' senior Democrat in the government reform committee, Henry Waxman, and the senior Democrat in the commiteee on energy and commerce, John Dingell.
Iraq rebuilding contracts worth hundreds of millions of dollars had been awarded or were on the table but few details had been released by the administration, they said.
"We request the GAO carry out its statutory responsibility to oversee how government funds are being spent, and to review the process in the award of these contracts," said one letter.
The US Agency for International Development had awarded two contracts and apparently solicited bids for six others, the lawmakers said.
The agency gave one contract worth 4.8 million dollars (4.5 million euros) to rebuild Iraq's only deep-water port at Umm Qasr- secured and controlled by British troops - to Stevedoring Services of America.
It awarded another 7.1-million-dollar contract for personnel support in a post-conflict Iraq to Washington-based International Resources Group.
The Army Corps of Engineers said last month it had awarded an oil well firefighting contract to Halliburton subsidiary Kellogg, Brown and Root without putting the deal out to tender.
The company was given the contract because it had already been asked by the Pentagon to draw up plans for extinguishing oil well fires in Iraq, the Corps said. The value of the contract is based on the cost of the service plus two to 5% depending on how the company executes the job.
The lawmakers questioned whether USAID and the Army Corps of Engineers had acted properly.
"It is unclear to us whether these agencies acted within the scope of their authority and followed accepted procurement practices," Waxman and Dingell wrote.
They asked the GAO to review how the firms were chosen, how the winners were selected and why little information had been released to the public or Congress.
In a separate letter, the lawmakers raised specific concerns over the treatment of Halliburton.
Cheney, who was chief executive of Halliburton from 1995 to 2000, still received deferred compensation from the group, they said.
"These ties between the vice president and Halliburton have raised concerns about whether the company has received favorable treatment from the administration," the two lawmakers said.
Concerns had deepened with the award of the KBR firefighting contract, they said.
In 1997, the GAO had found KBR billed the army for questionable expenses and last year KBR had paid two million dollars in fines to resolve fraud claims involving work at a military base, the lawmakers said.
"Despite these documented problems, the administration has awarded the Halliburton subsidiary a string of lucrative contracts over the last two years," they said.
"In light of the above, we ask GAO to investigate whether Halliburton and Brown and Root have received special treatment from the administration in the awarding of contracts."
How can we manifest peace on earth if we do not include everyone (all races, all nations, all religions, both sexes) in our vision of Peace?
The WorldPeace Banner
Show your desire for Peace and WorldPeace by wearing something
endorsing WorldPeace. Make your own pin or badge but remember, WorldPeace
is one word. Send me your WorldPeace pin designs and I will display
To the WorldPeace Peace Page