Haste Makes Waste


A New York Times story cites evidence that the federal government is already spending more money than it should on the Katrina cleanup, including wide price ranges for the same products and no-bid or limited-competition contracts at questionable rates. "When you do something like this, you do increase the vulnerability for fraud, plain waste, abuse, and mismanagement," says Richard L. Skinner, the Department of Homeland Security's inspector general. "We are very apprehensive about what we are seeing."

The story also quotes Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.), the ranking Democrat on the House Homeland Security Committee, who

complained that FEMA and other federal agencies were delivering too much of the work to giant corporations with political connections, instead of local companies or minority-owned businesses.

"There is just more of the good-old-boy system, taking care of its political allies," Mr. Thompson said. "FEMA and the others have put out these contracts in such a haphazard manner, I don't know how they can come up with anything that is accountable to the taxpayers."

Thompson's complaint seems to be that the government is wasting taxpayers' money by favoring politically connected companies when it should be wasting taxpayers' money by favoring local and minority-owned businesses. There is a similar contradiction in the October 3 New Republic, where the editors complain that "no-bid contracts worth hundreds of millions of dollars have been handed to big Bush donors" but also worry that "President Bush has ordered prevailing wage and affirmative action programs rolled back in the Gulf Coast." Squandering our money is OK, apparently, as long as the wasted dollars end up in the hands of interest groups that tend to support the Democrats.