Hooray and huzzah for Henry Waxman. Through his office as a member of the House of Representatives and his position as ranking Democratic member of the House Committee on Government Reform, Waxman has commissioned and released the results of a number of studies that investigate the shenanigans of the Republican-controlled government: from Bush administration leaks regarding a CIA operative’s identity, to government secrecy, to FDA underenforcement to fraud in Iraqi reconstruction contracts, Waxman and his staff are fighting for honest government with a verve that the Republicans in Congress just can’t seem to manage. In the last half-month alone, Waxman’s outfit has released results of five commissioned studies.
A Waxman-commissioned report that draws my particular attention this morning is Dollars, Not Sense: Government Contracting Under the Bush Administration. The report describes how private contracting for government services has metastasized under the Bush administration, at the same time that conflicts of interest between corporations and the government officials involved in awarding these huge contracts have grown. A few tidbits from the report:
- Private contracts have been the fastest-growing part of discretionary spending under the Bush administration.
- 118 government contracts to private contractors, with funding worth over $745,000,000,000.00, are plagued by big overcharges, big waste, or big-time mismanagement.
- Since Dick Cheney moved positions from CEO of Halliburton to Vice President of the United States, Halliburton contracts have grown to six times what they were before. Since Bush and Cheney got into office, Halliburton has been the corporation with the fastest growing share of government contracts. Why, what a coincidence!
- Remember when you took Economics 101? You probably read that competition is key to optimal outcomes. But under George W. Bush’s so-called “watch,” the dollar amount of non-competitive contracts more than doubled, from less than $70 Billion to more than $140 Billion.
- Holy Stupidhead Ideas, Batman! In order to engage in the limited oversight of contracts to private corporations that does exist, the Bush administration has relied upon private corporations to do the oversight. Yes, that’s right: private corporations under contract are doing oversight of private corporations under contract. But wait: there’s another contract to a private corporation to oversee the other private corporations under contract to oversee yet other private corporations under contract! And yes, there’s still more: some of the private corporations with oversight contracts have pre-existing ties to the very corporations they’re supposed to oversee. The Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction has concluded that this pyramid scheme of contracting out government ethics has been been counterproductive and inefficient. Yet on it goes.
All this is just a start, mind you, just a sampling of the Bush administration shenanigans uncovered in Waxman’s report. But don’t take my word for it. Give the report a read. Unless your heart is made of overashed coal, the text will stoke the fires of your indignation.