As we recently noted, the picture isn't pretty.
But Guru produces a stack of four pointed letters from Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ) that I hadn't previously seen. The letters, dating back to 2003, practically beg Maine's junior senator to fulfill her oversight responsibilities.
For example, from Sept. 23, 2003:
Dear Senator Collins:Again, this was 2003.
Last May, we urged you to convene hearings in the Governmental Affairs Committee to investigate the Iraqi reconstruction contracts that were awarded through a closed or limited bidding process..
Since we last wrote to you...the Wall Street Journal recently reported that the initial value of a no-bid Iraqi contract awarded to Halliburton by the Army Corps of Engineers has ballooned to $1.25 billion, which is $500 million more than what was projected earlier this month...
Earlier this month, the President also asked for an additional $20 billion for Iraqi reconstruction as part of his larger supplemental appropriations request. Unfortunately, the President provided no assurances that the billions of dollars in new contracts will not be awarded through similarly secretive processes. However, the importance of a transparent and open bidding process for federal contracts cannot be overstated...
We are reiterating our request for hearings on all post-war Iraq contracts awarded by the Bush Administration through a closed or limited bidding process. With these hearings, we would hope to examine the details surrounding these secretive contracting procedures, and explore what additional safeguards are needed to restore the public's confidence in the integrity of our procurement system.
The writing wasn't just on the wall. It was on Senate letterhead.
More than four years later, the price tag for Sen. Collins' inaction continues to grow.