Bechtel Begins Coordination of Iraq Reconstruction

Fri April 25, 2003 - National Edition

WASHINGTON (AP) _ Companies across the globe are applying for work in Iraq, Bechtel National Inc. says, as it takes charge of the huge postwar rebuilding effort.

Bechtel officials are assembling generators and other equipment while assessing Iraq’s long-term needs, company and government officials said Wednesday.

The company already is sending ships to survey and dredge the southern Iraqi port city of Umm Qasr to make it easier for humanitarian supplies to get through.

Bechtel spokesman Howard Menaker said many of the subcontractors will be chosen through bidding, a competition that follows criticism of the limited, invitation-only bidding that led to Bechtel’s contract.

Bechtel/Parsons Brinckerhoff is the private-sector manager for the $14.6 billion Central Artery/Third Harbor Tunnel project in Boston.

The U.S. Agency for International Development cited the need for speed, experience and companies with security clearances in deciding to limit competition. Bechtel was one of the few engineering and construction companies that met these requirements and has handled large reconstruction projects.

Several congressional Democrats have complained that only politically connected firms were chosen for the competition. A Senate bill sponsored by several Democrats and a Republican would force the government to publicly explain any contract award made without full competition.

Bechtel’s contract initially was approved for $34.6 million. Ellen Yount, spokeswoman for USAID, said the agency would have to confer with White House budget officials as the contractor requests additional funds.

Bechtel is no stranger to government work. From October 2001 to September 2002, the Department of Defense paid Bechtel $1.03 billion, making it the 17th largest military contractor in the country.

Bechtel’s revenue from all contracts totaled $11.6 billion in 2002, a 13 percent decline from $13.4 billion in the previous year. The company signed new contracts worth $12.7 billion, a 37 percent increase from $9.3 billion in 2001.

The Iraq contract covers rehabilitation of the power, water and sewage systems; rehabilitation or repair of airport facilities; and dredging, repair and upgrading of the Umm Qasr seaport in cooperation with other contractors.

Bechtel also may have a role in repair and reconstruction of hospitals, schools, selected government ministry buildings, irrigation facilities and transportation links.

The company has 47,000 employees on 900 projects innearly 60 countries.