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Monday, October 26, 2009

Money Well Spent?

USA Today reports on the release of some $30 million in stimulus funds to shady defense contractors:
The Department of Defense has awarded nearly $30 million in stimulus contracts to six companies while they were under federal criminal investigation on suspicion of fraud.

The companies claimed to be small, minority-owned businesses, giving them preference in bidding for government contracts, Air Force documents allege. But government investigators found they were part of a larger minority-owned firm and not eligible for small-business contracts.

The Air Force and Army awarded the companies 112 stimulus projects, federal contract records show. It wasn't until Sept. 23 — more than a year after the investigation started — that the Air Force suspended the firms from new federal contracts.

Scott Amey of the non-partisan Project on Government Oversight said the case exposes an oversight gap under the $787 billion stimulus plan and federal contracting in general. "Was there any disclosure of the contractors' missteps prior to them receiving the stimulus money?" he asked.

Air Force Lt. Col. Ann Stefanek said the stimulus projects were awarded independently by officers at military bases who wouldn't have spotted problems unless a contractor was suspended or debarred.

Federal rules let agencies terminate contracts if it's in the government's interest. Stefanek and Army Maj. Jimmie Cummings said the companies' work has been satisfactory and neither branch plans to cancel the stimulus contracts that were awarded before the firms were suspended.

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