No-bid contracts mean higher costs
|July 23, 2009||Posted by Jeffery J. Smith under Progress Report, The Progress Report|
No-bid contracts mean higher costs
Serial War — the American Way of Life
Blood money swells. We trim, blend, and append four 2009 articles from: (1) The Associated Press, July 17, on contracts by Brett J. Blackledge; (2) Weekly Wastebasket, July 17, on earmarks by Taxpayers for Common Sense; (3) the Los Angeles Times, July 22, on the F-22 by Kristina Sherry; and (4) the Huffington Post, July 21, on serial war by David Bromwich, Professor of Literature at Yale.
by B. J. Blackledge, by TCS, by K. Sherry, and by D. Bromwich
- No-bid contracts mean higher costs
The Defense Department frequently awards no-bid work to small contractors for repairs at military bases under the stimulus, costing taxpayers millions of dollars more than when businesses compete for the work, according to an Associated Press analysis of 570 such contracts.
The Pentagon saves more than three times as much money when companies compete. Yet more than $242 million in federal contracts — representing more than one-fourth of the military’s stimulus contract spending so far — has been through no-bid contracts.
* Elmendorf Air Force Base in Alaska estimated spending $9.2 million on paving jobs, but approved $9.4 million in contracts without competition. Arnold Air Force Base in Tennessee estimated its paving work at $650,000, and awarded $400,815 in contracts after receiving competing bids, about 38% under estimate.
* Tyndall Air Force Base in Florida figured it would spend $638,000 in sewer repair work and awarded the contract without bids for $629,118, slightly under its estimate. Travis Air Force Base in California estimated a sewer repair job at $3.7 million, and awarded a $2.5 million contract after bids, about 32% under estimate.
* Glendale Luke Air Force Base in Arizona estimated it would spend $2.7 million on heating and air conditioning conversion but awarded the contract without bids at $3.1 million, about 17% over estimate. The base estimated two other electrical jobs to replace and repair transformers to cost $440,000, but the actual contract was awarded through competitive bids at $454,990, slightly over its estimate.
Across the government, more than $543 million in federal contracts have been awarded so far without competition under Obama’s $787 billion stimulus program.
Much of the spending is for common construction at a time when contractors are offering discounts. State governments report millions in savings as projects come in under budget after making companies bid for the work.
President Barack Obama promised last month to save money through competition.
- A Million (Dollar) Reasons for Earmarks
The 18 members of the House Defense Appropriations subcommittee submitted more than $1.6 billion in defense earmark requests — and potentially a lot more (some refused to tell exactly what they requested).
Nearly half the total earmark dollars each year are contained in the defense spending bill. Most earmarks are written so that there is only one possible recipient — the weaponeer that donated to the lawmaker behind the earmark. So thousands of dollars in campaign contributions can turn into millions of taxpayer dollars to pad a companys bottom line. Thats a pretty fair return on investment.
We think earmarks to private companies should just be eliminated. The risk of corruption is too high. And these contracts should have been competed in the first place.
- Senate votes to stop making more F-22 Raptor fighter jets
A surprising defeat for some lawmakers in both parties, the 58-40 vote on an amendment to the $680-billion defense authorization bill called for stripping out the $1.75 billion set aside for construction of seven more of the Air Force’s F-22 Raptors.
The Pentagon has invested an estimated $65 billion in the program since it began, and each aircraft costs $44,000 per hour to operate. The jet has not been used in Iraq or Afghanistan.
If the Senate’s action is sustained in the House-Senate conference version of the bill, F-22 production would cease at 187 planes.
Supporters of the Lockheed Martin plane cited the need to protect aerospace jobs.
Obama is pushing to shift more spending to intelligence, personnel, and the production of more F-35 Joint Strike Fighters.
- Serial War — the American Way of Life
Because Republicans win by campaigning for wars, Democrats try to appear more willing to fight than they may feel is either prudent or just.
Ruled by a military/industrial complex seeking profit, we now have a need for an enemy at all times that exceeds the citable evidence of danger at any given time.
In the Af-Pak theater, a war in one country crosses the border into a second with hardly a pause for public discussion or a missed step in appropriations.
The American military now encompasses an officer class with the character and privileges of a native aristocracy, and a rank-and-file granted the best of socialist possibilities.
America’s founders supposed that wars were affairs of kings, waged in the interest of aggrandizement, and of the hereditary landed aristocracy to augment privilege and wealth.
In no respect could wars ever serve the interest of the people.
They hoped democracy would lead irresistibly away from the conduct of wars.
JJS: The military/industrial complex can be conquered. But first we must end our aristocracy, all of it. That impels us to recover the rents for all kinds of land, in lieu of taxing labor or capital, and then to share the rents, in lieu of letting politicians earmark them in exchange for contributions. This policy of geonomics delivers peace.
Jeffery J. Smith runs the Forum on Geonomics.
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