Probe Highlights Wasteful Pentagon Addiction To No-Bid Contracts

By Kenneth R. Bazinet

America loves its mercenaries.

Competitive-bid Pentagon contracts are a low point since the Sept. 11 attacks, giving way to the military’s addiction to hard-to-trace, fast-track no-bid contracts that have encouraged waste and fraud, according to a new report.

Private military contractors, the politically correct name for everyone from hired guns to engineers and custodians, are still cashing in since the war on terror began 10 years ago.

A new “fellow the money” investigation, dropping incrementally each day this week by the Center for Public Integrity’s IWatch News, shows the Pentagon’s no-bid contracts jumped to $140 billion in 2010, up from $50 billion in 2001.

“While the Pentagon says its overall level of competition has remained steady over the past 10 years, publicly available data shows that Defense Department dollars flowing into non-competitive contracts have almost tripled since the terrorist attacks of 9/11,” writes author and journalist Sharon Weinberger, the accomplished national security writer whose byline is on the CPI investigative report.

The Pentagon’s competitive-bid contracts declined to 55% the first half of this year based on dollars spent, the group’s analysis of available public federal records show.

The big winner in both the competitive-bid and no-bid world of Pentagon spending, is the Houston-based outfit KBR, formerly known as Kellogg, Brown & Root. KBR was competitively awarded an umbrella contract in December 2001, but was not required to compete for any subsequent contacts, the analysis revealed.

Over 10 years through the end of July of this year, KBR earned  $37 billion, proving water systems, heaters, tents, and dining facilities, as well as electricians, cooks, cleaners and other civilian workers for military bases, CPI reported.

“The rush to war in the months following the terrorist attacks of 9/11 created an urgency in the Pentagon, not just for military operations but also for contracting,” Weinberger writes in thge second of five installments of CPI’s “Windfalls of War” series —- an update to an earlier groundbreaking investigation by the highly regarded watchdog group.

Read more by Kenneth R. Bazinet at The Baz File

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