Top U.S. contracting official calls for investigation over Halliburton deals
"The top civilian contracting official for the Army Corps of Engineers, charging that the Army granted the Halliburton Company large contracts for work in Iraq and the Balkans without following rules designed to ensure competition and fair prices to the government, has called for a high-level investigation of what she described as threats to the 'integrity of the federal contracting program.'
The official, Bunnatine H. Greenhouse, said that in at least one case she witnessed, Army officials inappropriately allowed representatives of Halliburton to sit in as they discussed the terms of a contract the company was set to receive.
The contracts to Halliburton, a Houston-based conglomerate headed by Dick Cheney before he became vice president, have stirred controversy and charges of favoritism because some were granted on an emergency basis, without competitive bidding. The company's operations in Iraq, involving work for more than $10 billion, have also been dogged by charges of overbilling and waste and have been an issue in the presidential campaign.
The Pentagon has asserted that, as the invasion of Iraq began, Halliburton was the only company able to provide services with the required speed and secrecy. But Pentagon auditors later questioned the company's billing practices and found examples of reckless spending or unjustified charges."
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