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WASHINGTON - Minority-owned businesses say they're paying the price for the decision by Congress and the Bush administration to waive certain rules for Hurricane Katrina recovery contracts.
About 1.5 percent of the $1.6 billion awarded by the Federal Emergency Management Agency has gone to minority businesses, less than a third of the 5 percent normally required.
On Tuesday, Sen. Olympia J. Snowe (news, bio, voting record), R-Maine, and Rep. Donald A. Manzullo (news, bio, voting record), R-Ill., asked the Government Accountability Office to investigate whether small and minority-owned businesses have been given a fair opportunity to compete for Katrina contracts.
Andrew Jenkins doesn't think so.
Once Katrina's destructive waters receded, he began making calls in hopes of a winning a government contract for his Mississippi construction company.
Jenkins, who is black, says he watched in frustration as the contracts went to others, many of them larger, white-owned companies with political ties to Washington.
Big, Easy Iraqi-Style Contracts Flood New Orleans
As Katrina's flood waters recede, government contractors are flowing into the Gulf Coast and reaping billions of dollars in pre-bid, limited bid, and sometimes no-bid contracts. Many of these contractors and the men who award them are the same players who bungled the reconstruction of Iraq. Deja vu all over again.