Sketchy Contracts And Bidding Busts

Sunday, December 25, 2005; Page F05

The world of government contracting had more than its share of missteps. Rep. Randy "Duke" Cunningham (R-Calif.) resigned from the House after pleading guilty to taking bribes from two defense contractors. The Department of Homeland Security, meanwhile, was buffeted by reports of wasteful spending as it threw billions of dollars at security problems after the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks. Its disaster relief arm was berated for inept handling of contracts after Hurricane Katrina.

And sticky fingers, it was alleged, carried off some of the $20 billion designated for rebuilding Iraq. A contractor, two Army reserve lieutenant colonels and a civilian employee of the Coalition Provisional Authority were nabbed on charges they rigged bids on reconstruction work so they could siphon off millions in cash for themselves. And the civilian, who had charge of $82 million in funds, already happened to be a convicted felon. His criminal record had been overlooked by the contractor hired to provide the CPA with workers.

-- Charles R. Babcock