JANUARY 25, 2010
Although President Obama has repeatedly vowed to end the unscrupulous practice of awarding no-bid government contracts to politically-connected firms, his administration has just given a multi million-dollar sweetheart deal to a Democratic donor without considering competitive bids.
The $25 million federal contract for work in Afghanistan was awarded a few weeks ago to a Washington-based firm owned by economist and Democratic donor Vincent Checchi, according to a national news outlet that broke the story this week. Checchi & Company Consulting, Inc. will provide “rule of law stabilization services” in the war-torn Middle Eastern country.
The firm will train the next generation of legal professionals throughout Afghan provinces, according to the U.S. government, and thereby “develop the capacity” of the country’s justice system to be “accessible, reliable and fair.” Many other reputable companies provide similar services, but none were even considered because the Obama Administration issued a special waiver that cancelled the open bid process. Checchi has donated thousands to Obama, the Democratic National Committee and other party leaders in the U.S. Senate.
To be fair, this sort of back-door, no-bid dealing was prevalent in administrations past—both Democrat and Republican—which is why Obama promised to terminate what he calls a wasteful method of doing business. Weeks after moving into the White House, the president signed a memorandum to reform the government contracting system by ending the popular practice of awarding deals without competition.
The commander-in-chief claimed the move would save taxpayers tens of billions of dollars annually, though little has changed in the system. More than $543 million in federal deals have been awarded without competition in the last few months alone. The money has come from Obama’s prized $787 billion stimulus program with a big chunk of the no-bid contracts going to military projects for things like base repairs. So much for the president’s infamous change rhetoric.
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