JULY 28, 2006
A few weeks ago we reported how Department of Homeland Security employees fraudulently charged thousands of dollars on their government-issued credit cards and now a Congressional report blasts the massive agency for waste and misspending due to inadequate oversight and a dependence on no-bid contracts.
The expose details how Homeland Security spent $34 billion in its first two years on private contracts that were poorly managed or included significant waste or abuse. Millions were spent on faulty airport screening machines, unused mobile homes for hurricane victims and lavish employee office space – complete with seven kitchens, a gym and fancy artwork.
The department’s spending increased from $3.5 billion to $10 billion in a two-year period and about half of the 2005 contracts were secured without full and open competition, from $655 million to $5.5 billion. This included $1.2 billion to install and maintain faulty luggage screening equipment at commercial airports that had a high false alarm rate and $19 million for fancy Transportation Security Administration office space that includes half a million dollars worth of artwork and a high-tech fitness center.
Abusive and wasteful spending by Homeland Security officials is nothing new. As far back as 2004, documents revealed how the federal government threw more and more money at the agency without keeping track on how it was spent. One report concluded that contract decisions at the agency are made on a political basis rather than on a sound, cost-benefit analysis.
The Barking Dingo compares the fiasco at Homeland Security to the sweetheart deals handed out to the politically connected in Iraq, no-bid contracts that end up costing taxpayers billions in waste and fraud. Shades of Ice asks: With the track record of the current administration, was anyone really surprised by this?
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