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Halliburton gets another $33 million for Hurricane Katrina clean-up
12 Oct. 2005

WASHINGTON, Oct. 12 (HalliburtonWatch.org) -- The U.S. Navy awarded $33 million to Halliburton for clean up work at naval air stations damaged by Hurricane Katrina, the Department of Defense announced last night.

The money will be added to the $12 million awarded to Halliburton on August 29, the day Katrina made landfall. Both awards, totalling $45 million, require the company to repair structures and remove debris at naval air stations in Pascagoula and Gulfport, Mississippi and in Louisiana.

On Sept. 14, the Navy announced another $15 million for Halliburton to support the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in pumping water out of New Orleans, restoring utilities and constructing temporary morgues.

The Navy assigned the work to the company under the $500 million "construction capabilities contract," (or CONCAP), awarded in 2001 and renewed in 2004 after competitive bidding.

Last night's announcement brings the current value of Halliburton's Katrina contracts to $61.3 million, a number that is likely to grow as new task orders are issued in the future. [Oct. 19 Update: total value of Halliburton's Katrina contracts equals $124.9 million; includes contracts with the Department of Defense and FEMA.]

Critics worry that Halliburton's performance in Iraq, which the U.S. State Department called "poor," will be exported to areas affected by Katrina. At one point last year, the Pentagon reported that Halliburton failed to account for 43 percent of its expenses in the Middle East. Military audits determined the company had $1 billion in "questioned" expenses in Iraq (i.e. expenses which military auditors consider "unreasonable") and $442 million in "unsupported" expenses (i.e. expenses which military auditors have determined contain no receipt or any explanation on how the expenses were disbursed).

Members of Congress have expressed outrage that Halliburton was picked for Katrina work since it is being investigated on numerous fronts for wrongdoing, including violation of criminal laws, bribery, bid-rigging and felonious overcharging of U.S. taxpayers. Some members have demanded the Pentagon suspend the company from all new contracts.

Former Bush administration officials, now private lobbyists or corporate CEOs, rushed down to the Gulf Coast in search of government contracts soon after Katrina made landfall, sparking charges of cronyism. Even some Republicans were a bit embarrassed by it. �I think there are some laws that have to be changed, especially [when contracting] in emergency situations and the like," Rep. Tom Davis (R-VA), chairman of the House Committee on Government Reform, told The Hill newspaper.

In all the uproar, the Bush administration agreed to re-open some of the Katrina contracts awarded by the Federal Emergency Management Agency so that more local and small businesses can get involved. Halliburton's Navy contract used to support Katrina relief will not be re-opened.

Additionally, Congress is considering an oversight committee to prevent cost-overcharges and abuse of taxpayer dollars as witnessed in Iraq. "The sudden interest by a Congress not known for its commitment to oversight is a reflection of the ballooning cost of hurricane relief, lessons learned from Iraq and growing unease in Republican circles about recent political scandals, according to politicians and analysts," reported the Los Angeles Times.