A new report claims that a "shadow government" of federal contractors has exploded in size over the last five years.
The document, compiled at the request of Rep. Henry Waxman (D-CA) and distributed to RAW STORY, indicates that procurement spending increased by over $175 billion between 2000 and 2005, making federal contracts the fastest growing component of federal discretionary spending.
500 reports, audits and investigations by government and independent bodies, including the Government Accountability Office and the Defense Contract Audit Agency, were used to compile the data.
That spending increase -- an astonishing 86 percent -- puts total US federal procurement at $377.5 billion annually. The increase means spending on federal contracts has grown more than two times as fast as other forms of discretionary government spending.
Nearly $800b in contracts questioned
Waxman claims that overcharging -- by mistake or outright fraud -- has been a frequent occurrance. In all, the report identifies 118 federal contracts worth $745.5 billion that have been found by government officials to include significant waste, fraud, abuse or mismanagement.
Each of the Bush Administration's three signature initiatives -- Homeland Security, the Iraq war and reconstruction in Iraq and Hurricane Katrina recovery -- has been linked to wasteful contract spending.
Spending is categorized in the report as highly concentrated on a few large contractors, with the five largest contractors receiving over 20 percent of contract dollars awarded in 2005. Last year, the largest federal contractor, Lockheed Martin, received contracts worth more than the total combined budgets of the Department of Commerce, the Department of the Interior, the Small Business Administration and the U.S. Congress.
But the fastest growing contractor under the Bush Administration has been Halliburton. Federal spending on Halliburton contracts shot up an astonishing 600% between 2000 and 2005.
Waxman plans to make all 118 "problem contracts" available on the Internet as part of a searchable database with Internet links to government audits.
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