Troublesome contracting trends persist under Bush, report finds

More Dollars, Less Sense: Worsening Contracting Trends Under the Bush Administration

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The government’s procurement spending continues to climb, noncompetitive contracts occur more frequently, and waste, fraud and abuse persist throughout the departments, according to a new report from the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee.

For the first time, annual procurement spending increased to more than $400 billion, with more than half coming from new contracts that were awarded without full and open competition. Furthermore, the total value of wasteful contracts now exceeds $1 trillion, according to the report, titled “More Dollars, Less Sense: Worsening Contracting Trends Under the Bush Administration.”

“The worrisome trends identified last year have worsened significantly,” states the report, which was issued by the committee Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) leads.

However, Bush administration procurement officials said last week 64 percent of contracts are categorized as competitive and that percentage has remained steady since 1997. Meanwhile, with the growth in spending, everything has gone up.
“You can pick any category that you wish and say, ‘Wow, it’s gone up,’” said Paul Denett, Office of Federal Procurement Policy administrator, in a June 19 speech. He said competitive dollars and noncompetitive dollars have increased.

The committee’s latest report found spending increased to $412.1 billion in 2006. The Democrats’ 2006 report, “Dollars, Not Sense: Government Contracting Under the Bush Administration,” which analyzed procurement data from 2000 to 2005, found spending had risen from $203.1 billion in 2000 to $377.5 in 2005.

No-bid and limited-competition contracts surged more than $60 billion to $206.9 billion in 2006, the largest single-year increase ever, according to the new report. Last year’s report found no-bid contracts and other forms of contracts awarded without full and open competition had gone from $67.5 billion in 2000 to $145.1 billion in 2005.

The new report identifies 187 contracts, worth $1.1 trillion, that have been impacted by waste, fraud, abuse or mismanagement. Last year’s report identified 118 contracts worth $745.5 billion that government auditors found involve significant waste, fraud, abuse or mismanagement.

The committee used findings from more than 700 reports, audits and investigations by government and independent bodies, such as the Government Accountability Office.

In addition, the report is based on the Eagle Eye Federal Prime Contracts Database, a federal procurement database application published by Eagle Eye. It contains data from fiscal 1999 to 2006 that is compiled from the General Services Administration’s Federal Procurement Data System.

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