THE CONTRACTING MESS AT DHS. The House Government Reform Committee is out with a report (PDF) today documenting 32 instances of waste, fraud, and abuse in contracting at the Department of Homeland Security. It�s not the sort of reading that makes you feel all cuddly and safe, confident that the government, a good steward of your tax dollars, has everything under control. Instead, it is a stark reminder of what�s broken in Washington. And no, it�s not the Republican boogeyman, that faceless �bureaucracy.� It�s the whole sordid mess of cronyism and political corruption, where lobbyists and contractors buy influence and access, as the Prospect documented back in January.

Noting that DHS�s procurement budget is growing 11 times faster than the rest of the federal budget, the bipartisan report documents the explosive rise in sole-source contracts and widespread contract mismanagement at the department, including an alarming lack of trained procurement personnel. Dysfunctional or nonexistent oversight, the investigators found, has �squandered hundreds of millions, if not billions of dollars.� Regrettably, the report doesn�t address the role that lobbyists, campaign money, and the unsupervised revolving door have played in the mess. It would have been a perfect opportunity to show how the vaguely defined �culture of corruption� is actually damaging our security. But the report does confirm what former DHS Inspector General Clark Kent Ervin told the Prospect a few months ago: �the private sector was able to take the department for a ride.�

--Sarah Posner

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