Remember what a big deal that Obama made about no bid contracts under Bush?
As a candidate for president in 2008, then-Sen. Obama frequently derided the Bush administration for the awarding of federal contracts without competitive bidding.
"I will finally end the abuse of no-bid contracts once and for all," the senator told a Grand Rapids audience on Oct. 2. "The days of sweetheart deals for Halliburton will be over when I'm in the White House."
Those remarks echoed an earlier occasion, during a candidates' debate in Austin, Texas on Feb. 21, when Obama vowed to upgrade the government's online databases listing federal contracts. "If [the American people] see a bridge to nowhere being built, they know where it's going and who sponsored it," he said to audience laughter, "and if they see a no-bid contract going to Halliburton, they can check that out too."
Less than two months after his inauguration, President Obama signed a memorandum that he claimed would "dramatically reform the way we do business on contracts across the entire government."
Flanked by aides and lawmakers at the Dwight D. Eisenhower Executive Office Building on March 4, Obama vowed to "end unnecessary no-bid and cost-plus contracts," adding: "In some cases, contracts are awarded without competition....And that's completely unacceptable." The March 4 memorandum directed the Office of Management and Budget to "maximize the use of full and open competition" in the awarding of federal contracts. . . .
Now it turns out that Halliburton was just awarded a $568 million contract.
KBR Inc. was selected for a no-bid contract worth as much as $568 million through 2011 for military support services in Iraq, the Army said.
The Army announced its decision yesterday only hours after the Justice Department said it will pursue a lawsuit accusing the Houston-based company of taking kickbacks from two subcontractors on Iraq-related work. The Army also awarded the work to KBR over objections from members of Congress, who have pushed the Pentagon to seek bids for further logistics contracts.
The Justice Department said the government will join a suit filed by whistleblowers alleging that two freight-forwarding firms gave KBR transportation department employees kickbacks in the form of meals, drinks, sports tickets and golf outings.
“Defense contractors cannot take advantage of the ongoing war effort by accepting unlawful kickbacks,” Assistant Attorney General Tony West said in a statement.
KBR, the Army’s largest contractor in Iraq, will review the litigation when it is received and “will continue to cooperate with the government,” company spokeswoman Heather Browne said in an e-mail. “Gifts of dinners, baseball tickets and similar items would violate KBR policies and KBR was not aware of these violations.”
KBR will continue to provide services in Iraq such as housing, meals, laundry, showers, water purification and bathroom cleaning under the new order, which was placed under a military contract KBR won in late 2001, shortly after the U.S. invaded Afghanistan. . . .
The promise was already frequently broken:
The recent awarding of a lucrative federal contract to a company owned by a financial contributor to the Obama presidential campaign -- without competitive bidding -- "violated" President Obama's many campaign pledges to crack down on the practice, a top State Department official told Fox News.
Assistant Secretary of State P.J. Crowley, familiar to many Americans from his erudite delivery of the State Department's daily press briefings, made the admission in a telephone interview Saturday night.
Reminded of Obama's many pledges during the 2008 campaign to crack down on the use of no-bid contracts, and of the memorandum the president signed last March instructing the Office of Management and Budget to curb the practice, Crowley said: "You make a valid point. If you want to say this violates the basis on which this administration came into office and campaigned, fair enough."
The contract in question, worth more than $24.6 million, was awarded on Jan. 4 by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) to Checchi and Company Consulting, a Washington, D.C.-based firm owned by economist and Democratic Party donor Vincent Checchi. The deal called for Checchi's firm to train lawyers and judges in Afghanistan and thereby strengthen the "rule of law" in the war-torn country. . . .
It turned out later that the company getting the contract was a big Dem Donor.
The contract, awarded on Jan. 4 to Checchi & Company Consulting, Inc., a Washington-based firm owned by economist and Democratic donor Vincent V. Checchi, will pay the firm $24,673,427 to provide "rule of law stabilization services" in war-torn Afghanistan. . . .