Purchasing Pork in Iraq

For all those non-US readers of Spend Matters, we have an expression in this country called "pork". It refers to government spending programs which are slipped into bills or other appropriations to benefit special interests. Usually, there's some type of remuneration involved for the public servants (which often take the form of political contributions during the next election cycle or in some cases, more overt behind-the-table-kick-backs to various parties). So even though you can't really purchase pork in Iraq thanks to Islamic dietary laws, you can in fact see government pork in action from a spending perspective.

Over on Supply Excellence, Tim Minahan has the story about how US military officials appear to be skimming off the top. According to Tim's report, "An expose in the Wall Street Journal this week reports that U.S. military procurement officials are under investigation for an alleged price fixing and kick-back schemes involving some of the nation's largest food companies. According to the article, the inquiry is focused on whether the food companies set "excessively high prices" when they sold their goods to the Army's primary food contractor in the Iraqi war zone. The Kuwaiti contractor is also being scrutinized for pocketing refunds it received from food suppliers, including Perdue Farms, Sara Lee Corp., ConAgra Foods, and others."

I suppose that if the DOD procurement teams involved in this scandal are proven guilty that their military careers will be over. But they're always other exciting places to deploy such skills sets in the public sector. Like the UN sourcing organization, for example. Or maybe they could even jump over to the private sector, working for firms in the activated carbon business who'd rather try to control supply and fix prices than let the free markets determine what companies should pay.

Jason Busch

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