Shock and Awe in Fort Worth: How the U.S. Army Rigged the 'Free and Open Competition' to Replace Halliburton's Sole-Source Oil Field Contract in Iraq.
Washington, DC (PRWEB) April 28, 2004
Senator Kerry will begin focusing Friday on political cronyism in the Bush administration, especially the connections between Halliburton and Vice President Cheney, former Halliburton CEO, according to MondayÂs Washington Post. Halliburton's Iraq contracts have yielded nearly $12 billion worth of work to date, four times as much as the second-place U.S. contractor in Iraq, Bechtel, with $3 billion worth of work to be completed by the end of 2005 for USAID. Sheryl Tappan was involved in the Iraq contracting and has the hard evidence of cronyism in the Halliburton contract awards that Senator KerryÂs campaign needs. She has just presented the facts in a daring new book, "Shock and Awe in Fort Worth: How the U.S. Army Rigged the 'Free and Open Competition' to Replace Halliburton's Sole-Source Oil Field Contract in Iraq."
After the Pentagon was forced to reveal in March 2003 that it had secretly awarded $7 billion worth of Iraq oil field work to Halliburton KBR, the Army Corps of EngineersÂ Fort Worth District was supposed to give other contractors a chance to bid on the work. The irony is the competition for the two replacement contracts turned out to be far more corrupt than the original sole-source award. The competition appeased Bush administration critics because the bidders who realized it was a sham have been afraid to speak out and so the fraud was never revealed Â until now. Last summer, Sheryl Tappan led BechtelÂs proposal team in that competition until she discovered it was a sham and recommended Bechtel withdraw, which it did.
Cheney, former Halliburton CEO, has been accused of giving the Iraq oil field work to his cronies based on circumstantial evidence, not proof. Big business IS Republican, but political contributions or financial ties are not enough to convict or defeat Cheney and Bush. CheneyÂs critics have never identified the bureaucratic pathway by which the payback could have been achieved, or even a single link in the chain. Tappan has. Her book names individuals at the Corps and shows how they lied and cheated HalliburtonÂs competitors and violated federal law. "Bidders who know what happened have never complained for fear of losing their chances of winning future government work," Tappan said, "but as an independent consultant, IÂm not bound by this code of silence to which federal contractors adhere." (Earlier last year, she was responsible for the proposal that won Bechtel the Iraq civil infrastructure reconstruction contract from USAID.)
According to articles in The New Yorker in February, HalliburtonÂs secret $7 billion contract was authorized at the "highest levels of the Administration" (source: The New York Times) and "anything that has to do with Iraq policy, CheneyÂs the man to see, heÂs running it..." (source: "a businessman with close ties to the Bush administration"). The missing links Tappan identifies in "Shock and Awe in Fort Worth" include generals as well as contracting staff responsible for selecting the Iraq oil contractors and overseeing their performance. "I believe they should all be prosecuted for procurement fraud, corruption, and conspiracy, committed more openly and arrogantly than IÂve ever seen," Tappan said, "and the Inspector General is supposed to be conducting an unbiased investigation of Halliburton KBRÂs overcharging, but certain of his actions suggest he may be involved in the favoritism toward Halliburton as well."
Kerry needs a path forward out of the quagmire of federal contracting waste and abuse. HalliburtonÂs highly publicized overcharging for delivering fuel and serving meals to troops in Iraq reveal what Tappan calls "just the tip of the iceberg of federal contracting problems, problems that are only going to get worse." The U.S. Government depends on private contractors to perform hundreds of billions of dollarsÂ worth of work every year. Due to the war in Iraq, BushÂs outsourcing initiative, and other factors, that dependency and those contract dollars have been increasing at a dramatic rate. At the same time, the number of federal personnel who select the contractors and oversee their performance has been decreasing at an even faster rate Â by 50% at DoD in the last decade alone, and half of the remaining procurement staff are expected to retire by 2007. "It doesnÂt take a rocket scientist to see that these two trends are on a collision course, and the fallout will be devastating to government operations, be they at war or at home," says Tappan, "and weÂll all suffer Â taxpayers, children, retirees, not just the military; education, health care, all government services, not just defense."
While bestsellers have been attacking the Bush administration from the left, or defending it from the right, "Shock and Awe in Fort Worth" is the first book to present a constructive, nonpartisan examination of the Iraq contracting debacle and to identify a path forward out of the quagmire of financial waste and potential abuse that the governmentÂs large, cost-reimbursable contracts have become. Tappan presents a tough three-point plan to achieve the level of transparency and accountability required on mega-contracts like HalliburtonÂs in Iraq, but it will undoubtedly be controversial. "I fear," she says, "that without a radical reassessment, the government will apply its usual solutions, which just donÂt work; theyÂre all smoke and mirrors, as I explain in my book."
For more information on the author or the book, go to http://www.BookRegime.com or e-mail Sheryl Tappan via TappanConsulting@msn.com
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