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That bird won’t fly and other news

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Over the past 10 years, the Pentagon has competed only about 60 percent of its total contract dollars, which stands in stark contrast to other large federal agencies. The State Department, for example, competed 75 percent of its contract dollars in fiscal year 2010, while the Energy Department competed almost 94 percent of its contract dollars. The U.S. Agency for International Development, which faced heavy criticism in the early days of the Afghanistan conflict for handing out sole-source contracts, competed almost 80 percent of its total contract dollars in fiscal year 2010. Even the Department of Homeland Security, which was blasted for a series of disastrous contracts in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, outstripped the Pentagon on competed contracts: it competed almost 77 percent of its contract dollars in 2010.

There are several reasons that these numbers may be low. If the DoD competes an original contract, the winning contractor usually gets all the follow-on contracts, often with no new competition, and those service contracts or weapons procurement are then seen as being a competitive contract for years after the initial competition.

Take the infamous Halliburton/KBR LOGCAP contact for the Iraq war. (Halliburton sold off KBR and is no longer involved in the contract.) Many reporters and members of Congress erroneously said it was a sole-source contract for Dick Cheney’s former company. But the LOGCAP contract was competed when it was just used for maintaining some bases and work in Kosovo. The contract ran around $60 million a year, a small amount in Pentagon terms.

Gen. Paul Kern, the Army chief of logistics for the Iraq war, didn’t have enough troops for logistics because then-Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld put a cap on the amount of troops to be used in the initial invasion. Kern pulled out the small KBR LOGCAP contract and exploded it to cover the logistics for thousands of troops in the war effort. The follow-on contract was eventually competed late in the war and KBR lost part of it, but not until the original “competitive” contact swelled to over $40 billion dollars for KBR. (Click HERE for article)

U.S. firms eye Mexico for security contracts
Nick Miroff and William Booth – (The Washington Post) – January 26, 2012 – With the Iraq war over and the American presence waning in Afghanistan, U.S. security contractors are looking for new prospects in Mexico, where spreading criminal violence has created a growing demand for battle-ready professionals.

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