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The Halliburton saga continues

Retired Army Maj. Gen. William Nash, now a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, put it best when he said, "When you keep finding problems, you're a damned fool to keep working with the same guy," referring to Halliburton. "It seems to me that the Pentagon has been taken for a ride." (source: GovExec 10/4/04) The GovExec story on Halliburton gives a quick summary of some of its recent tumultuous history and examines the fact that despite its numerous questionable activities, Halliburton keeps winning contracts. The latest contract, a $1.2 billion competitively-bid contract awarded in January, was meant to replace the no-bid contract that Halliburton was awarded to repair Iraq's oil industry (this first contract was belatedly announced right before the war in March 2003). However, this second contract was awarded just days after "Pentagon auditors waved red flags." The Defense Department's principal auditing agency, the Defense Contract Audit Agency, told the Army Corp of Engineers that Halliburton had "significant deficiences" in its ability to estimate cost. The auditing agency also called for a DoD Inspector General investigation into the overcharging of at least $61 million in gasoline imports by Halliburton. (These and other examples of corporate misconduct by Halliburton are covered in POGO Executive Director Danielle Brian's testimony to the Senate Democratic Policy Committee on 9/10/04.) According to P.W. Singer, a national security fellow at the Brookings Institution and the author of Corporate Warriors, "In government contracting, we usually disqualify companies that are in the midst of multiple investigations." POGO seconds this line of thinking and has other recommendations as well. Earlier this year POGO updated its Federal Contracting and Iraq Reconstruction Report. In brief, the report's recommendations are geared toward the systemic problems in the federal contracting system, of which Halliburton is only the tip of the iceberg, and are (see the report for more details): 1. Full & Open Bidding. 2. Fairness. 3. Competitive Bidding. 4. Modify Procurement Practices. 5. Restore Funding for Contract Oversight.

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