"A child's learning is the function more of the characteristics of his classmates than those of the teacher." James Coleman, 1972

Friday, November 11, 2005

No-Bid Contracts Still Going, and Going, and . . .

How about a $90,000 portable classroom without the concrete foundation that state code requires ? That's what FEMA's choice has to offer school systems on the Gulf Coast, even though local companies have offered to set up these units correctly for half of FEMA's preferred fee. Here is a clip on the winning company, Akima, Inc. from today's story in the Times:
Akima's majority owner is the NANA Regional Corporation. It is represented in Washington by Blank Rome Government Relations, a lobbying firm with close ties to the Bush administration and particularly Tom Ridge, the former head of the Department of Homeland Security, FEMA's parent agency. NANA's federal contracts have grown rapidly in recent years, according to the Center for Public Integrity.
And for more on the swelling sewer of corruption see this from USA Today on the no-bid contracts that will not be re-bid, we find out, until most of the work has been done:
The no-bid contracts for temporary housing, worth up to $100 million each, were given to Shaw Group Inc., Bechtel Corp., CH2M Hill Inc. and Fluor Corp. right after Katrina struck. Charges of favoritism helped prompt last month's pledge by FEMA acting director R. David Paulison, but now officials with the Homeland Security Department, which oversees FEMA, say the contracts won't be awarded again until February.
And further down:

Bechtel CEO Riley Bechtel served on Bush's Export Council from 2003-2004, and the Shaw Group's lobbyist, Joe Allbaugh, is a former FEMA director and friend of Bush. Both companies have denied political connections played a factor.

On Oct. 6, acting FEMA chief Paulison declared he was "no fan of no-bid contracts" and pledged to reopen the four deals. But in testimony to Congress on Tuesday, Greg Rothwell, Homeland Security's chief procurement officer, said rebidding won't be done until February.

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