Thursday, November 22, 2007

How To Profit From War, Parsons Corp

Maybe you remember a slight difficulty in Iraq with a Police Academy, one that had crumbling walls and sewage running from the ceilings and walls? The name of the US contractor who had charge of that $72 million project was Parsons Corporation. The NYT reported 11/06/07 that the 'problems' had yet to be rectified. Parsons seems entirely overwrought with remorse:
A company spokeswoman, Erin Kuhlman, said that Parsons, which is based in Pasadena, Calif., had strictly abided by the terms of the contract it had received from the United States Army Corps of Engineers to do the work at the academy.

“Parsons completed its work at the Baghdad Police College in the spring of 2006,” Ms. Kuhlman said, adding that the Army Corps accepted the work as completed at about the same time.
It seems that in July of '06 the Army wasn't happy with sewage running out the ceilings. Parsons put them in contact with the Iraqi subcontractor. In July and August of '06 the Office of the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction, an independent agency led by Stuart W. Bowen Jr. took a look and was distinctly unhappy, finding “indications of potential fraud” and oversight by the Army Corp and Parsons to have virtually nonexistent.

Folks, I'm a contractor, nowhere in Parson's universe, and I know that you almost have to try to make this big a mess. This is a training academy not a 5 star hotel or mansion, it is not that difficult. There are ways screw it up this bad and they generally involve cheating.

On Sept. 28, 2006, as the inspector general’s report was released, Earnest O. Robbins II, a senior vice president at Parsons, testified before the House Government Reform Committee that the company would fix the problems at no extra charge. “We are repairing it at no cost to the government,” Mr. Robbins said in response to questions by Representative Chris Van Hollen, Democrat of Maryland.
On the Sunday previous to this 11/6/07 news report :

the American officer affiliated with the new project to repair the problems described an elaborate and costly effort to tear out and replace the plumbing on entire floors. The problems were so severe, the officer said, that the military had also been obliged to build new latrines outside and demolish some structures entirely and start over.

“These buildings are all Parsons-built,” said the officer. “The piping is bad. It really is. To be honest with you, it’s raw sewage, raw fecal matter coming out of the walls.”
Now if you've started to wonder if war is good for business and if they think it is there are some clues available as to their thinking, little deals like FEC filings, say Parsons starting in 2000 when there was no war to profit from

All Federal Candidates:
2000 $75,250 (38% to Democrats, 60% to Republicans)
2002 $130,500 (43% to Democrats, 57% to Republicans)
2004 $270,500 (50% to Democrats, 50% to Republicans)
2006 $417,050 (49% to Democrats, 50% to Republicans)
2008 $209,000 (61% to Democrats, 39% to Republicans) to date
Numbers courtesy Open Secrets

Now it seems that not too long after the BushCo started to make it clear that they'd like to outsource government it became important to influence thinking as much as possible. Now '04 was a Presidential cycle, but it sure seemed awfully important, not to mention that the war started in '03. The '06 cycle didn't involve any Presidential campaigns ( in '04 $0 went to Democratic Presidential) but there sure was profit to be made from death and destruction and governmental largess with the kind of oversight that Stuart Bowen found so "useful."

There's a $45 billion reconstruction project turkey to cut up in Iraq, in '04 Parsons had contracts worth up to $800 million. By 6/06 the Army Corp had cancelled a $99.1 million contract for a prison that was 1 year behind schedule, weeks after a $300 million contract to build clinics and hospitals was canceled for non-performance.

So, it's worth pretty big bucks to candidates to get work worth a lot of money but the doing of it seems not quite as worthwhile. We need some more of this, let's be sure to elect the same mindset to Congress and President, Parsons would be appreciative...

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