The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers overpaid on a $39.5 million contract for portable classrooms in Mississippi in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, according to a draft of a Government Accountability Office report obtained by USA Today.
The newspaper reported on April 12 that the investigative arm of Congress has concluded that the Corps could have negotiated a lower price on the 450 portable classrooms.
Akima Site Operations, a politically connected firm based in North Carolina, was awarded the no-bid contract for the portable classrooms by the Corps of Engineers, although another contractor, Adams Home Center of Yazoo City, Miss., had agreed to deliver and set up the same number for around $26 million.
USA Today quoted the preliminary GAO report as saying that Akima gave the Corps an unofficial cost estimate on Sept. 16, then submitted a “significantly higher” final price the next day. The Corps “accepted Akima’s proposed price of $39.5 million although they had information that the cost for the classrooms was significantly less than what Akima was charging,” the GAO said, according to the newspaper.
The report is expected to be released this week, said a GAO spokeswoman, Laura Kopelson. Frank Worley, a spokesman for the Corps of Engineers, said the agency was drafting a response to the GAO report.