About three years too late, the Army is dumping Halliburton Co., Dick Cheney's old company, as the provider of first, second, and third resort (no questions asked, no cost too high) provider of logistical support to U.S. troops worldwide. (Washington Post)
A reminder of why that arrangement, in effect since 2001, has proved less than ideal:
Under the deal, Halliburton had exclusive rights to provide the military with a wide range of work that included keeping soldiers around the world fed, sheltered and in communication with friends and family back home. Government audits turned up more than $1 billion in questionable costs. Whistle-blowers told how the company charged $45 per case of soda, double-billed on meals and allowed troops to bathe in contaminated water.
The Post reports that last year the Army paid Kellogg, Brown & Root, the Halliburton subsidiary that performs this work, more than $7 billion under the contract, with $4-5 billion coming this year. An Army official says the company did a bang-up job and the decision reflects a desire not to have "'all our eggs in one basket' because multiple contractors will give them better prices, more accountability and greater protection if one contractor fails to perform." (It took them this long to figure that out?)
For more on Halliburton, see Ed Harriman's unsparing examination of the Iraq reconstruction boondoggle in the London Review of Books and Michael Scherer's look at the company's global reach in Mother Jones.