Corruption? in DC? You’re kidding, right?

Roughly 25% of all purchases by the District government this year were unauthorized or part of no-bid contracts. $425M out of $2.5B. This is my favorite part of the article:

“We screwed up,” said Anthony F. Pompa, head of accounting for Chief Financial Officer Natwar M. Gandhi, when he was shown hundreds of millions of dollars in unauthorized checks.

Yeah. Screwed up. $425M. Screwed up. People ought to lose their jobs over this sort of thing. Will they? Not unless we hold their feet to the fire.

Now, while some of that is for services for which the District does not have contracts (why doesn’t it have contracts? Not really all that clear, is it? Sure am glad I might be forced to pay taxes to these guys.), and Natwar Gandhi’s quote makes it look awfully rosy:

“I will be damned if a child is without textbooks or an AIDS patient is without medicine just because some bureaucrat did not file the paperwork right.”

What’s really frustrating to me is the no-bid contracts situation. Apparently, so long as you publish your schedule of fees, bidding is not required. Never mind that this sort of thing increases costs, on average 39% for the nation. The big trick here is the “direct voucher”, which works like a signed blank check. Take that puppy to the bank and cash it, and the money’s yours, with little or no city accountability or oversight. DC’s apparently one of the few cities in the country that does it this way, where most others gave it up a while back due to the sort of problems that this can lead to.

The article is lengthy, but worth a read. While the District may be running a nice surplus this year, wouldn’t you rather have that money back so you can use it better?

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