The Federal Emergency Management Agency has awarded nearly 4,000
no-bid contracts, prompting House appropriators to seek explanations
and to write legislation that would require competition for most
contracts in the future.
FEMA came under fire from lawmakers and
government investigators for awarding no-bid contracts worth hundreds
of millions of dollars in the aftermath of hurricanes Katrina and Rita
in the fall of 2005.
But the list of 4,000 no-bid contracts,
which FEMA recently sent to the House Appropriations Committee in
response to questions, is one of the highest numbers ever disclosed for
any agency across the government.
Neither FEMA nor the House Appropriations Committee would release
the list or discuss its contents in detail, leaving it unclear what
time period the list covered, what the contracts were for or how much
the contracts were worth.
An Appropriations aide said the list
raised more questions than it answered, and the committee is now
seeking more detailed explanations from FEMA. For example, the aide
said some of the reasons FEMA gave for awarding no-bid contracts did
not seem to make sense.
The aide added that FEMA originally
submitted a list of 40 no-bid contracts worth at least a couple of
hundred million dollars. But in response to follow-up questions, FEMA
submitted the list of nearly 4,000 no-bid contracts, creating
confusion, the aide said.
A FEMA spokesman said the majority of
the no-bid contracts were awarded under emergency conditions in the
aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. The list probably totals about 3,600
contracts, he added.
He said FEMA has greatly improved its
contracting practices under the leadership of Director David Paulison,
who replaced the embattled former chief, Michael Brown.