The Blogiston Post

Politics, money, and war.

Thursday, September 22

Another GAO Report

Defense Spending Is Overstated, GAO Report Says
The Pentagon has no accurate knowledge of the cost of military operations in Iraq, Afghanistan or the fight against terrorism, limiting Congress's ability to oversee spending, the Government Accountability Office concluded in a report released yesterday.

The Defense Department has reported spending $191 billion to fight terrorism from the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks through May 2005, with the annual sum ballooning from $11 billion in fiscal 2002 to a projected $71 billion in fiscal 2005. But the GAO investigation found many inaccuracies totaling billions of dollars.

"Neither DOD nor Congress can reliably know how much the war is costing and details of how appropriated funds are being spent," the report to Congress stated. The GAO said the problem is rooted in long-standing weaknesses in the Pentagon's outmoded financial management system, which is designed to handle small-scale contingencies.
I believe this is the report cited in the article.

Global War on Terrorism: DOD Needs to Improve the Reliability of Cost Data and Provide Additional Guidance to Control Costs, GAO-05-882
GAO found numerous problems in DOD's processes for recording and reporting costs for GWOT, raising significant concerns about the overall reliability of DOD's reported cost data. As a result, neither DOD nor Congress can reliably know how much the war is costing and details on how appropriated funds are being spent, or have historical data useful in considering future funding needs.
I haven't read the report...but I'll be looking at the foot notes in particular. That's where the good stuff usually is.

Saturday, September 17


Iraq is costing about $3 billion a week in US taxpayer dollars. Is it too much to ask that a little more than the cost of one week in Iraq, be used to cover Tricare insurance for guardsman/women and reservists for the next 5 years?

That's money I would consider well spent.

And, shame on you, Rep Duncan Hunter, R-CA. SHAME. ON. YOU.

Would extending Tricare coverage take guns out of troops' hands?
Extending federal health care to all drilling reservists would be so expensive that it could take guns out of troops' hands, a former Defense Department financial expert said Wednesday.

But reservist lobbying groups, which have been pushing for the coverage, called the comments scare tactics that miss the importance of the health care expansion.

In the spring, members of the House Armed Services Committee approved an amendment providing access to Tricare to all reserve and guard troops preparing for active duty, but chairman Rep. Duncan Hunter, R-Calif., struck the proposal before it reached a vote before the full House, citing excessive costs.


On Wednesday, during a hearing before the committee, former Defense Department comptroller Dov Zakheim said paying for the health care expansion, estimated at about $3.8 billion over the next five years, would eat into the acquisition budget, "we're taking weapons out of everybody's hands."
The Department of Defense was slow to provide armor to troops, and now they are squawking about insurance.

Maybe Mr. Rumsfeld believes troops are "fungible" but this American happens to disagree with his assessment. Give your senators a piece of your mind and demand Tricare insurance for all reservists and guardsmen/women.

I can't help but wonder WHO exactly is lobbying AGAINST the guardsmen/women and reservists. Lockheed Martin? L3? Raytheon? Someone who is afraid a little portion of their missile defense boondoggle budget will be eaten into.

Wednesday, September 14

Blog Search

Google has a new blog search feature. Easy to use. I'm liking it so far.

Remains to be seen how easy the new service is to manipulate with google bombs.

Tuesday, September 13

Same old same old

There is a commentary posted at the ePluribus Media scoop site that's worth a looksee. The connections to contracts in Iraq, in this case, telecommunications, and the reward of a cushy job with a defense contractor.

Another Cush Job
by Gottlieb
Joseph E. Schmitz, son of John G. Schmitz, the fiercely conservative former congressman from Orange County, is the Inspector General at the Pentagon. He is leaving the Dept. of Defense under a dark cloud of investigation over whether or not he has blocked other investigations of senior Bush officials.

Schmitz has been hired as COO and General Counsel for the Prince Group based in Alexandria, Virginia.

The Prince Group is the parent company of Blackwater USA.
There's more and it's not pretty.

Sunday, September 11

No money to follow

Iraqis To Bush - Where Did All Our Money Go?
by Evelyn Pringle
...a United Nations sanctioned audit concluded that about half of the $5 billion in Iraq reconstruction funds could not be accounted for because of poor financial controls, according to the PDF - Development Fund of Iraq-Report of Factual Findings in connection with Disbursements from January 1, 2004 to 28 June 2004, by the International Advisory and Monitoring Board, in September 2004

Until the summer of 2004, the CPA refused to release the names of companies that were awarded contracts paid for with Iraqi funds. Although information was available about US funded contracts, there was no public information available about companies paid with Iraqi money. In August 2004, information was finally made available for contracts valued at more than $5 million. But to this day, no details have been released about contracts worth less than $5 million.

An analysis of the data released in August 2004, showed that the CPA had awarded 85% of the contracts to US and UK firms. By contrast, Iraqi companies received a mere 2% of the contracts paid for with Iraqi funds.

A March 18, 2004 audit report by the Department of Defense Office of the Inspector General, titled, PDF - Acquisition: Contracts Awarded by the Coalition Provisional Authority by the Defense Contracting Command-Washington determined that the CPA and its predecessor, the Office for Reconstruction and Humanitarian Assistance (ORHA), had circumvented federal contracting procedures since the early days of the occupation.


Saturday, September 10

A bad nightmare...

...or is it Groundhog Day?

Shaw Awarded Contract from U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for Hurricane Katrina Recovery and Rebuilding
The Shaw Group Inc. (SGR) today that is has been awarded an Indefinite Delivery/Indefinite Quantity (ID/IQ) contract from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to aid in the recovery and rebuilding efforts. [...]

The $100 million contract has a base period of one-year, with an additional one-year option. Shaw announced earlier today a $100 million ID/IQ contract award by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to provide support services in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, including housing assistance for displaced residents.
Former head of FEMA, Joe Allbaugh and his wife have a family business. One of their clients is the Shaw Group. First Iraq, now New Orleans. Lucky Shaw. Lucky Halliburton. Lucky SCI...SCI, who?

FEMA mortuary move irritates volunteer
The Federal Emergency Management Agency has a hired contractor to provide services that a local mortician says have been available from volunteers through the National Funeral Directors Association. [...]

"The company that FEMA has chosen to outsource the recovery work in Louisiana is Kenyon, a worldwide disaster management company, wholly owned subsidiary of Service Corporation International," according to the NFDA.

SCI, of Houston, Texas, provides funeral, cremation and cemetery services in North America and Reuters reported Kenyon International Emergency Services spokesman Jay Kirsch said it was sending 50 workers to the area struck by Katrina to help recover the bodies of those killed by the hurricane.

So what, you say?

Funeralgate Hits Texas
On April 15, 1998, funeral magnate Robert Waltrip talked with Gov. George W. Bush in the Texas Capitol. That much is not in dispute. However, the content of their discussion is the subject of considerable dispute. And the actions taken by the governor's staff members, a half-dozen legislators, and Texas Attorney General John Cornyn after that April 15 meeting are part of what may be the biggest influence-buying scandal in recent memory.

The politicos and the funeral company are at the heart of a whistleblower lawsuit filed March 23 against the state, funeral home giant Service Corporation International (SCI), and Waltrip, the company's chairman and CEO. The suit alleges that Bush and other politicos worked to thwart an investigation by the Texas Funeral Service Commission (TFSC) into improperly licensed embalmers working out of SCI funeral homes in Dallas. [...]

And why did Allbaugh get involved? Did he, as Bush's chief of staff, simply make his own decision to intervene on behalf of SCI? Could Allbaugh have been persuaded by a $35,000 political contribution?