GAO to broadly probe Iraq contracts

The General Accounting Office will launch a broad-scale probe into methods and secrecy that surrounds awarding of contracts to rebuild Iraq, Comptroller General David Walker said Thursday in an interview with National Journal Group reporters.

But Walker said he had rejected as inappropriately partisan the specific request from House Government Reform ranking member Henry Waxman, D-Calif., and House Energy and Commerce ranking member John Dingell, D-Mich., to investigate whether KBR, the engineering division of Halliburton formerly known as Kellogg Brown & Root, received "favorable treatment" in being awarded a contract by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

"We're not going to do work targeting particular contractors," Walker said. "I believe that has a partisan tint." Walker said that as part of the broader review, it was "highly likely Halliburton will come into the scope," but he said no company would be singled out for scrutiny. Vice President Dick Cheney was Halliburton's CEO before President Bush picked him for the 2000 GOP ticket.

In a wide-ranging interview today with National Journal and CongressDaily reporters, Walker said his agency's probe will be wider than an internal inspector general investigation under way by the U.S. Agency For International Development, which has come under fire from members of Congress, including Senate Governmental Affairs Chairwoman Susan Collins, R-Maine, and ranking member Joseph Lieberman, D-Conn. They were critical of the deliberations surrounding a $600 million contract to start rebuilding Iraq. AID on Thursday evening awarded the contract, which could be worth up to $680 million over 18 months, to Bechtel Restoration of San Francisco.

Walker said his agency would see what the AID inspector general does. "We'll consider that to the extent appropriate, but .... I expect we are going to do something more extensive than what I understand they did." He also said his agency's investigation will be wider than just probing AID, a lead agency in making Iraq reconstruction contracts, and include others that issue contracts.

On another controversial matter, Walker said it was strictly a "business decision" not to appeal a U.S. District Court ruling against GAO, which had sued to get information about the energy task force headed by Cheney. He said that a majority of Democrats and a "super majority" of Republicans he has talked to had felt he should not appeal. Asked if he had received any "threats" regarding the court case, he said only in "one circumstance" did he get what he described as a "thinly veiled threat" not to file the original lawsuit. It came from "a senior member of Congress" who mentioned Walker's budget situation, he said, but he would not identify the legislator.

Stay up-to-date with federal news alerts and analysis — Sign up for GovExec's email newsletters.
Close [ x ] More from GovExec

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Sponsored by G Suite

    Cross-Agency Teamwork, Anytime and Anywhere

    Dan McCrae, director of IT service delivery division, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)

  • Data-Centric Security vs. Database-Level Security

    Database-level encryption had its origins in the 1990s and early 2000s in response to very basic risks which largely revolved around the theft of servers, backup tapes and other physical-layer assets. As noted in Verizon’s 2014, Data Breach Investigations Report (DBIR)1, threats today are far more advanced and dangerous.

  • Sponsored by One Identity

    One Nation Under Guard: Securing User Identities Across State and Local Government

    In 2016, the government can expect even more sophisticated threats on the horizon, making it all the more imperative that agencies enforce proper identity and access management (IAM) practices. In order to better measure the current state of IAM at the state and local level, Government Business Council (GBC) conducted an in-depth research study of state and local employees.

  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    The Next Federal Evolution of Cloud

    This GBC report explains the evolution of cloud computing in federal government, and provides an outlook for the future of the cloud in government IT.

  • Sponsored by LTC Partners, administrators of the Federal Long Term Care Insurance Program

    Approaching the Brink of Federal Retirement

    Approximately 10,000 baby boomers are reaching retirement age per day, and a growing number of federal employees are preparing themselves for the next chapter of their lives. Learn how to tackle the challenges that today's workforce faces in laying the groundwork for a smooth and secure retirement.

  • Sponsored by Hewlett Packard Enterprise

    Cyber Defense 101: Arming the Next Generation of Government Employees

    Read this issue brief to learn about the sector's most potent challenges in the new cyber landscape and how government organizations are building a robust, threat-aware infrastructure

  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    GBC Issue Brief: Cultivating Digital Services in the Federal Landscape

    Read this GBC issue brief to learn more about the current state of digital services in the government, and how key players are pushing enhancements towards a user-centric approach.


When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.