[StBernard] Study: U.S. double-billed for Katrina work
westley at da-parish.com
Fri May 5 01:50:46 EDT 2006
Study: U.S. double-billed for Katrina work
Democrats blame Corps of Engineers for lax oversight of contractors
The Associated Press
Updated: 3:07 p.m. ET May 4, 2006
WASHINGTON - Contractors who were paid billions of dollars for
post-Hurricane Katrina cleanup double-billed the government for debris
removal, overstated mileage claims to get extra fees and inflated prices by
improperly mixing debris, a Democratic study revealed Thursday.
Rep. Henry Waxman, ranking Democrat on the House Government Reform
Committee, compiled the report and blamed the U.S. Corps of Engineers for
lax oversight of contractors.
The Corps' director of civil works, Maj. Gen. Don Riley, defended his
agency's performance, telling a committee hearing that the Corps deployed
the auditors who found the problems and are trying to recoup the money.
The report said contractors sometimes billed twice for removing the same
debris and, in other cases, took advantage of extra payments of $2 per cubic
yard for debris carried more than 15 miles. Auditors found mileage was
overstated in more than 50 percent of the 303 trips they examined.
Contractors fraudulently mixed green waste with construction and demolition
debris to inflate their billings by $2.84 per cubic yard, the report said.
Other instances of fraud found by auditors, Waxman's report said, included
double billing for housing trailers and abuse of government-issued credit
In blaming the Corps, the report said the Army's officials "regularly
credited contractors with hauling more debris to dumps than they actually
carried." Auditors found that the Corps' assessments of contractor
performance were "overly generous," "unusually high," "more on the liberal
side," "often very liberal" and "consistently on the high side."
The Corps also was blamed for allowing inflated charges in more than $300
million in contracts for temporary roof repairs using blue plastic sheeting.
Contractors indicted for fraud
Riley, of the Corps, said such problems were "exactly what I asked our
auditors to find." He said payments were withheld until the charges could be
verified and the government has indicted several contractors on fraud
Waxman asked Matt Jadacki, special inspector general for Gulf Coast
Hurricane Recovery, whether Corps officials were doing their jobs to prevent
"We found some cases where there were no monitors," Jadacki said.
Committee Chairman Tom Davis, R-Va., said that Congress approved more than
$63 billion for disaster relief, and ultimate recovery expenses may top $200
Davis said many of the contracts were awarded without competition, but
government officials at the hearing said these contracts are being replaced
with competitive awards.
Davis said the sole-source contracts allowed an "unprecedented opportunity
for fraud and mismanagement."
C 2006 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be
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C 2006 MSNBC.com
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