WASHINGTON - June 15 - The GAO told Congressional investigators today that Pentagon officials "overstepped the latitude provided by competition laws" before the war by awarding oil-related work to Halliburton under a pre- existing global logistics contract (LOGCAP).
Testimony before the House Committee on Government Reform hearing confirmed today that Bush administration political appointees overruled career contracting officials in the Pentagon by giving Halliburton the oil-related task order months before the invasion of Iraq.
The hearing came two days after Pentagon officials admitted that Pentagon political appointees notified Vice President Cheney's chief of staff of the decision to award Halliburton a no-bid contract to repair Iraq's oil infrastructure.
Contracting experts say it is highly unusual for political appointees to be involved in the contracting process since contracts are normally awarded by career civil servants with expertise in government contracting. Involvement by Cheney's chief of staff in the contracting process contradicts Cheney's assertion that he had no role in awarding contracts to his former company.
At the same time, the committee's failure to call Halliburton whistleblowers to testify underscores Congress' continuing failure to hold the company accountable for contracting abuses and potential fraud.
Rep. Tom Davis (R-Va.) refused to allow five former Halliburton employees with additional evidence of waste, fraud and abuse to testify today. The former employees (as well as an employee of a Halliburton subcontractor) have brought serious charges of abuse by Halliburton subsidiary KBR to the attention of Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.), including billing $45 per six pack of soda, the use of a five-star hotel in Kuwait, a $100 charge per bag of laundry, and the torching of brand new $80,000 trucks.
The abuses are spelled out in a new letter sent by Rep. Waxman yesterday to Davis, and posted at: http://www.halliburtonwatch.org
"While the Bush administration failed to adequately plan for the safety of our troops -- as proven by its failure to provide sufficient body armor -- it made certain that Halliburton would make a killing long before the war began," said HalliburtonWatch project coordinator Jim Donahue.