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Audit: 'Small Business' Money Given to Big Business

POSTED: 12:04 PM ET, 07/ 8/2008 by Derek Kravitz


"Washington Watchdogs," a periodic feature of the Post's Investigations blog, looks at the findings of the federal government's official investigators.

Investigators from the Department of the Interior found that $5.7 million in contracts that were supposed to go to "small businesses" were actually given to several Fortune 500 companies.

The department's inspector general, Earl E. Devaney, launched the investigation after complaints came in about the reliability of data entered into the department's computer system.

Contractors told investigators that some government workers "often click through mindlessly when entering" contract info into the computer system and that if contract officers "did their job, (errors) wouldn't happen."

Some of the companies that benefited include Home Depot, John Deere, Dell, Sherwin Williams, Starwood Hotels and Waste Management Inc.

The amount of money incorrectly given to those companies -- nearly $6 million -- represents about .35 percent of the $1.6 billion given to small businesses last year. Investigators analyzed 472 contracts over a two-year period, representing about .3 percent of the contracts awarded.

Several other businesses, many of them state agencies and public universities, also got funds which they were ineligible to receive. Among them was the Navajo Tribal Utility Authority, a Fort Defiance, Ariz., company that supplys electricity, water, natural gas, wastewater treatment and solar power services to residents throughout the 26,000 square-mile Navajo Nation, which received $3.9 million in small business contracts in 2006 and 2007.

The report is unclear about whether the money will be returned.

Top five "small business" contract amounts given to ineligible Fortune 500 companies in 2006 and 2007:

John Deere Co. -- $618,018
Dell Inc. -- $401,976
Waste Management Inc. -- $244,355
GTSI Inc. -- $172,684
Xerox Co. -- $75,154

By Derek Kravitz |  July 8, 2008; 12:04 PM ET Washington Watchdogs
Previous: Don Young's Pitch to the Lobbyists | Next: Dick Cheney's Continuing Environmental Influence

Comments

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they should all pay the money back & get a good stiff fine to boot!

Posted by: marcus | July 8, 2008 1:06 PM

U.S. CONSTITUTION - WE THE PEOPLE OF THE UNITED STATES


DEMOCRAT $24 BARREL OF OIL
DEMOCRAT $1.50 A GALLON OF GASOLINE


OIL WAS $24 A BARREL WHEN DEMOCRATS LEFT OFFICE
OIL WAS $24 A BARREL WHEN DEMOCRATS LEFT OFFICE
OIL WAS $24 A BARREL WHEN DEMOCRATS LEFT OFFICE


A GALLON OF GASOLINE WAS $1.50 WHEN DEMOCRATS LEFT OFFICE
A GALLON OF GASOLINE WAS $1.50 WHEN DEMOCRATS LEFT OFFICE
A GALLON OF GASOLINE WAS $1.50 WHEN DEMOCRATS LEFT OFFICE

GOP REPUBLICANS TOOK OFFICE TO CHANGE OIL TO $145 A BARREL
GOP REPUBLICANS TOOK OFFICE TO CHANGE GASOLINE TO $4.50 A GALLON


GOP REPUBLICAN $145 BARREL OF OIL
GOP REPUBLICAN $145 BARREL OF OIL
GOP REPUBLICAN $145 BARREL OF OIL

A GALLON OF GASOLINE IS $4.50 UNDER THE GOP REPUBLICANS
A GALLON OF GASOLINE IS $4.50 UNDER THE GOP REPUBLICANS
A GALLON OF GASOLINE IS $4.50 UNDER THE GOP REPUBLICANS

YOU DO THE MATH AND DECIDE IF TEXAS OIL MILLIONAIRES WARRANT INVESTIGATIONS TO PROTECT THE AMERICAN PEOPLE


GOP REPUBLICAN WALL STREET CONSPIRACY TO DEFRAUD THE AMERICAN PEOPLE AND STEAL FROM THE UNITED STATES TREASURY.


GOP REPUBLICAN ABUSIVE POWER AND BLIND GREED RUN AMOK TO TRANSFER THE AMERICAN ECONOMY INTO THE PRIVATE CAPITALISTIC POCKETS OF THE SUPER RICH WHO OWNS AND RUNS WALL STREET.


GOP REPUBLICANS ARE MANIPULATING THE MARKET SYSTEM TO MAKE THE MANY (95 PERCENT OF AMERICAN CITIZENS) SUFFER AND SERVE THE SUPERWEALTHY FEW (5 PERCENT WALL STREET SUPERCAPITALISTS).


GOP REPUBLICAN MCCAIN-MCBUSH III TRILLION DOLLAR WAR CRISIS


GOP REPUBLICAN WALL STREET MILLIONAIRES ARE PAYING THEMSELVES $10,000,000 BONUSES FROM MONEY STOLEN FROM THE U.S. TREASURY, WHILE SENDING OUR AMERCAN JOBS OVERSEAS. RECKLESS OUTSOURCING IS DESTROYING AMERICAN MANUFACTURING AND THE AMERICAN ECONOMY.


NO MORE GOP REPUBLICAN LIES, CONSPIRACIES, AND GRAND LARCENIES.


GOP REPUBLICAN $155 BARREL OF OIL SPECULATIONS
GOP REPUBLICAN $175 BARREL OF OIL SPECULATIONS
GOP REPUBLICAN $195 BARREL OF OIL SPECULATIONS
GOP REPUBLICAN $215 BARREL OF OIL SPECULATIONS
GOP REPUBLICAN $235 BARREL OF OIL SPECULATIONS
GOP REPUBLICAN $255 BARREL OF OIL SPECULATIONS


GOP REPUBLICAN $4.50 A GALLON GASOLINE SPECULATIONS
GOP REPUBLICAN $5.00 A GALLON GASOLINE SPECULATIONS
GOP REPUBLICAN $5.50 A GALLON GASOLINE SPECULATIONS
GOP REPUBLICAN $6.00 A GALLON GASOLINE SPECULATIONS
GOP REPUBLICAN $6.50 A GALLON GASOLINE SPECULATIONS
GOP REPUBLICAN $7.00 A GALLON GASOLINE SPECULATIONS


WHEN DOES IT STOP IF EVER?


GOP REPUBLICAN WALL STREET GREED SPECULATION DOES NOT WORK.
GOP REPUBLICAN WALL STREET GREED SPECULATION IS HURTING AMERICA.
GOP REPUBLICAN WALL STREET GREED SPECULATION IS HURTING OUR CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHTS.


STOP GOP REPUBLICAN WALL STREET OIL SPECULATIONS TODAY
STOP GOP REPUBLICAN WALL STREET OIL SPECULATIONS TODAY
STOP GOP REPUBLICAN WALL STREET OIL SPECULATIONS TODAY


GOP REPUBLICAN OIL ADDICTION HAS BECOME THE NEW CRACK DRUG AND WE BETTER GET OFF SOON
GOP REPUBLICAN OIL ADDICTION HAS BECOME THE NEW CRACK DRUG AND WE BETTER GET OFF SOON
GOP REPUBLICAN OIL ADDICTION HAS BECOME THE NEW CRACK DRUG AND WE BETTER GET OFF SOON


GOP REPUBLICAN WALL STREET MILLIONAIRES ARE PAYING THEMSELVES $10,000,000 BONUSES FROM MONEY STOLEN FROM THE U.S. TREASURY, WHILE SENDING OUR AMERCAN JOBS OVERSEAS. RECKLESS AMERICAN JOB OUTSOURCING IS DESTROYING AMERICAN MANUFACTURING AND THE AMERICAN ECONOMY.


NATIONALIZE U.S. OIL FOR NATIONAL DEFENSE.
NATIONALIZE U.S. OIL FOR NATIONAL DEFENSE.
NATIONALIZE U.S. OIL FOR NATIONAL DEFENSE.


CLEAN NUCLEAR ELECTRIC ENERGY IS THE ANSWER


WE THE PEOPLE OF THE UNITED STATES.


BARACK OBAMA WILL BRING BACK OUR UNITED STATES CONSTITUTION AND RIGHTS OF THE AMERICAN PEOPLE.


GOP REPUBLICAN WALL STREET MILLIONAIRES ARE PAYING THEMSELVES $10,000,000 BONUSES FROM MONEY STOLEN FROM THE U.S. TREASURY, WHILE SENDING OUR AMERCAN JOBS OVERSEAS. RECKLESS OUTSOURCING IS DESTROYING AMERICAN MANUFACTURING AND THE AMERICAN ECONOMY.


STOP GOP REPUBLICAN MCCAIN FROM SELLING OUR AMERICA.


This remarkable unleashing of deep Democratic energies went hand in hand with clever GOP Republican efforts to subvert the will of the American People, whether by overt corruption or covert manipulation. This corruption or manipulation resulted from the widespread market activity that was incompatible with the good of the American Public. American Citizens were well aware that the voices of the People could be offset by powerful GOP Republican market elites bending the system to serve the interests of the few. The economic power of the GOP Republicans were recognized to be the primary source of Wall Street speculators' corruptions.

Democratic dialogue was motivated by opposition to the market-driven greedy GOP Republicans obsessed with obscene quantity of moneymaking with little regard for the quality of the Public's Democracy. Democratic love of wisdom was contrasted sharply against the GOP Republicans love of money.

Posted by: GOP Republican Failures | July 8, 2008 5:45 PM

A 22-year old woman was killed by a garbage man today when he drove his garbage truck just North of Dupont Circle.

Today, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) filed bar complaints against former Department of Justice officials Michael J. Elston and Esther Slater McDonald. CREW based its complaint on the report recently released by the Department of Justice's Office of Inspector General and Office of Professional Responsibility.

The Rules of Professional Conduct prohibit attorneys from engaging in conduct involving dishonesty and conduct that "seriously interferes with the administration of justice."

CREW's executive director Melanie Sloan said "the Department of Justice's mission is to 'ensure fair and impartial administration of justice for all Americans,' not just conservatives. Ironically, Elston and McDonald engaged in illegal conduct while serving in the top echelon of the very agency charged with enforcing our nation's laws; their respective bars' disciplinary committees should take this into account." Sloan continued, "Ideology should never trump the rule of law, not even in the Bush administration."

Economist Paul Krugman observes: What is happening under Bush is something entirely unprecedented: For the first time in our history, so much growth is being siphoned off to a small, wealthy minority that most Americans are failing to gain ground even during a time of economic growth" All indicators of the economic status of ordinary Americans -- poverty rates, family incomes, the number of people without health insurance -- show that most of us were worse off in 2005 than we were in 2000. So where did all the economic growth go? It went to a relative handful of people at the top -- who in certain cases didn´t earn it.

It is not hard to foresee, in the current state of our political and economic scene, the outline of a transformation into a permanently unequal society -- one that locks in and perpetuates the drastic economic polarization that is already dangerously far advanced, in one case through means such as theft and vehicular homicide.

Posted by: Singing Senator | July 8, 2008 5:46 PM

if the governmenet actually kept tabs on their contractors, and if the contractors actually obeyed the law, the BILLIONS (not millions) of dollars would have gone to the small businesses in America that are struggling. Small business run america. not Dell.

Posted by: shauna | July 8, 2008 6:28 PM

Big Business has been unfairly gaining access to small business set aside contracts in a variety of industries. In some cases (office products industry), "front" small businesses are established or supported by large companies to provide a conduit through which federal, state and local government and public institution account business is channeled to the large national company, while government officials and agencies take credit for working with "small business." The growing problem of sham business arrangements is huge, apart from the "miscoding" problem referenced in the Post's blog article. Visit the House Small Business Committee website for a fuller report on these matters. Also see testimony in March and April before that subcommittee by our organization - the National Office Products Alliance (NOPA).

Posted by: Chris Bates | July 9, 2008 12:50 PM

We can complain all we want. I would like someone to tell me what it is that we can do to actually stop it. Why even have it in place if us small businesses are constantly getting our butts kicked. I'd sure like to see some of those "higher-ups" come to work for us who can't afford insurance and get paid enough to go to McDonald's for "a dinner out". I won't be alive to see it but one day the US government will get their own butts kicked.

Posted by: Shelly | July 9, 2008 1:50 PM

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