An issue near and dear to POGO's heart for several years, government contracting, has been covered by several news sources (AP, GovExec, NYT, WP, WSJ) that have reported on the new report by the Center for Public Integrity on the overall lack of full and competitive bidding for contracts at the Pentagon. The study shows that although Halliburton is the critic's poster child of the flawed contracting system at the Pentagon, no-bid contracting "is, unfortunately, not an aberration," but is systemic, according to Charles Lewis , director of the Center for Public Integrity (NYT 9/30/04).
From 1998 to 2003, over 40 percent of Pentagon contracting has been done on a no-bid basis. And most of the nation's 10 largest contractors, the sole exception being Science Applications International Corp., get the bulk of their Pentagon business without competition. For example, 74 percent of the military's largest contractor, Lockheed Martin's, business has been done on a noncompetitive basis. This finding, along with another - that these corporations spend millions on lobbying - dovetails with those of the recently released POGO report, The Politics of Contracting. Also, it must be noted that small businesses, which compete for most of their work, but don't lobby agressively or at all, face a stacked deck in the world of government contracting.
This problem also needs to be viewed in light of the fact that today half of the military budget is now outsourced to contractors. Yet while ever-larger pieces of the Pentagon pie are farmed out to corporations, the ability of the Pentagon to provide oversight has been gutted - the number of government officials who provide oversight has declined - and poor record-keeping exarcebates the status quo of inadequacy. And the cherry on this dubious ice cream sundae is that oversight, which should be an "inherently governmental" function, is being contracted out as well.