NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


May 5, 2006

Contractors who were paid billions of dollars for post-Hurricane Katrina cleanup double-billed the government for debris removal, overstated mileage claims to get extra fees and inflated prices by improperly mixing debris, a Democratic study revealed Thursday.

Rep. Henry Waxman, ranking Democrat on the House Government Reform Committee, compiled the report and blamed the U.S. Corps of Engineers for lax oversight of contractors.

According to auditors:

  • Contractors sometimes billed twice for removing the same debris and, in other cases, took advantage of extra payments of $2 per cubic yard for debris carried more than 15 miles.
  • Auditors found mileage was overstated in more than 50 percent of the 303 trips they examined.
  • Contractors fraudulently mixed green waste with construction and demolition debris to inflate their billings by $2.84 per cubic yard.
  • Other instances of fraud included double billing for housing trailers and abuse of government-issued credit cards.

In blaming the Corps, the auditors said the Army's officials "regularly credited contractors with hauling more debris to dumps than they actually carried." Auditors also found that the Corps' assessments of contractor performance were "overly generous," "unusually high," "more on the liberal side," "often very liberal" and "consistently on the high side."

The Corps also was blamed for allowing inflated charges in more than $300 million in contracts for temporary roof repairs using blue plastic sheeting.

Source: Associated Press, "Study: U.S. double-billed for Katrina work; Democrats blame Corps of Engineers for lax oversight of contractors,", May 4, 2006.

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