Vilsack axes $500K in USDA consulting contracts

Good for him:

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack says he killed about half a million dollars worth of consulting contracts approved by Bush administration political appointees near the end of President Bush’s term.

“The career folks who watched this process unfold in the last waning days of the last administration were very concerned about the process-the connections and relationships between people receiving this half a million dollar contract and what they intended to do with the resource which the career folks felt was unnecessary and inappropriate,” Vilsack said during a guest appearance at the daily White House press briefing. “They made a very strong and powerful case to me that the process was not followed as it should have been.”

Vilsack did not explain precisely what consulting the contract was to involve, but he said it seemed unnecessary.

“I didn’t see any value to USDA from it. I will tell you it was rather startling to see that a substantial amount of money had already been spent on foreign travel under circumstances we did not think was appropriate,” the secretary said.

More details are at the Politico. Thanks to my fellow Iowa blogger Chris Woods for bringing the story to my attention.

This news is obviously related to President Barack Obama’s directive to all the heads of government agencies to restrict no-bid contracts and crack down on wasteful contracts.

(cross-posted at La Vida Locavore, which you really should be reading)

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