Contractor Accused of Waste in Katrina Reconstruction Lands USAID Contract in Haiti
|Wednesday, 04 January 2012 14:39|
In March 2010, the New Orleans inspector general found that a major contractor for the city’s recovery efforts, MWH Americas, had been overcharging the city. The Times-Picayune reported at the time:
Now this same company accused of wrongdoing in New Orleans has landed a USAID contract for work in Haiti. And it's not the first time this has happened. MWH announced on December 21 that it had received a $2.8 million contract to conduct a feasibility study for port infrastructure in northern Haiti (the contract was signed on September 23). The company’s release goes on:
The awarding of the contract to Colorado-based MWH, despite a record of waste and abuse, is consistent with other contracts awarded by USAID in the aftermath of the January 2010 earthquake. Overall, USAID has awarded over $300 million in contracts, with only 0.02 percent going directly to Haitian firms. The largest contractor is Chemonics, a company with a long record of waste and abuse in Afghanistan and which was criticized by the USAID inspector general last year for its work in Haiti. MWH Global, the parent company of MWH Americas, spent over $675,000 dollars on lobbying expenses in 2011, according to OpenSecrets.org, although it was below the $1.2 million spent in 2010.
And it’s not just the contractors who are profiting. The person tasked with coordinating USAID’s relief efforts in the aftermath of the earthquake has personally benefited from the “gold rush” for contracts. Bill Quigley and Amber Ramanauskas, in their article, “Seven Places Where Earthquake Money Did and Did Not Go” write:
UPDATE 1/05: The article has been edited slightly for accuracy.