Saturday, June 21, 2008

People of Iowa - Prepare Yourselves

And cross your fingers that following Bush's visit won't be one of the government's favorite contractors, KBR, coming in to "help" you. Alert readers recognize KBR as one of companies that grew out of Halliburton. You may have thought that Halliburton and KBR's only picked America's defense pocketbooks. Foolish readers. Opportunists flood to where the money is, and again, the place where the money is going to be is a flood zone.

A recently released report (thank you FOIA) from an internal audit shows that KBR's response to the Katrina disaster was one hell of a boost to the company's bottom line. And the people being helped? Not so much. More of a boot to their bottoms, period. KBR was hired to set up trailer parks for displaced Navy personnel, make roof repairs on the Naval Construction Battalion Center in Gulfport and remove debris. What did the report show? Enjoy reading where your tax dollars went this time.

The Navy entered into an illegal "cost-plus-percentage-of-cost" contract with the company. Higher costs meant more profit for KBR, which rewarded the company for "inefficiency and non-economical performance."

KBR paid $4.1 million for services and meals that should have cost $1.7 million, and it awarded sole-source or limited-competition subcontracts that overpaid hourly rates to roofers.

KBR paid $540 a month for cell phones for some of its roofers, and also charged a $720-per-month fee per employee for fuel, despite the company’s agreement to provide fuel in the contract.

Several unusual costs, including monthly employee cellphone charges of $540 during roof repairs, $720 per month in gas charges -- even as the Navy was already paying for work-site fuel expenses -- and expensive meals, including steak and eggs.

KBR was hired to build trailer parks for displaced Navy personnel. Each trailer was supposed to have 200-ampere electrical service and water piping, but the subcontractors hired by KBR gave each trailer 100-ampere service and did not lay piping at proper building-code levels. As a result, a second contractor was paid $200,000 to fix the problems. One laundry facility was unusable, and structures were wired with plugs that had only about half of the power-handling capacity they needed. The plugs had to be replaced.

Roof repairs at the NCBC Gulfport took twice as long as the terms of the original agreement, the report said. Construction crews were rated as below average in competence in many cases, and got the job right only after much oversight from government inspectors.

The company was paid nearly all contract amounts despite "marginal-to-average performance."

"Marginal to average performance" - can't think of a bigger sign that this company has Bush/Cheney ties, can you? The audit requested that the Navy seek refunds of at least $8.5 million for "inappropriate" payments to KBR. We'll see how that moves along.

So if you're knee deep in Iowa mud looking for some of that help Bush offered - be wary of the hands that come to help and cross your fingers it's not KBR or another group of their low ethical and high opportunistic standards.


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