Now that Puerto Rico is moving into recovery and rebuilding after the Hurricane Maria disaster, billions of dollars in federal disaster spending are flowing to the island. Estimates put hurricane damage at $95 billion, and Puerto Rican Gov. Ricardo Rosselló is asking various federal agencies for $94 billion in grants.
With this much public money on the line, monitoring how U.S. tax dollars are spent in the recovery will be crucial to prevent waste, fraud, and shoddy work. The best way to do that is by awarding contracts through the open bidding process, which allows the largest number of businesses a chance to compete to offer the best deal. These types of contracts generally require more scrutiny and oversight than no-bid deals.
So far, competitive bidding hasn’t been a top priority for federal agencies responding to Hurricane Maria. Nearly half of the 540 federal contracts signed so far (as of November 16), totaling $252 million, were awarded outside the open bidding process, according to federal procurement data.
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