Who is Government Inc.

Robert O'Harrow Jr. is a reporter on The Post's Financial staff who focuses on government contracting, fraud, waste and abuse.

Last year, O'Harrow and his reporting partner, Scott Higham, received a top prize from Investigative Reporters and Editors for newspapers with a circulation of 500,000 or more.

O'Harrow had previously carved out a data-privacy beat, uncovering stories about the use of personal information that spurred changes in state and federal law. In 2000, he was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize.

He is the author of "No Place to Hide."

Send all tips, ideas and documents to confidentialinfo@washpost.com. All correspondence will be confidential. If possible, please include contact information.

By washingtonpost.com Editors |  July 9, 2007; 12:32 PM ET
Next: Welcome to Government Inc.

Comments

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Posted by: eric | July 10, 2007 2:14 PM

Isn't it ludicrous to imagine that a government can be "run like a business" while remaining dependent on taxes for its continuation? I submit that the only people who wish to see our government "run like a business" are other businesses; they profit by dealing with civil servants who personally have nothing at stake. Ya cain't have it both ways -- if you run it like a business then stop collecting taxes!Governments are typically in no danger of "going out of business," and government employees will continue to have secure jobs regardless of performance, as long as the tax dollars flow -- enough said!

Posted by: Jean Hess | July 10, 2007 4:01 PM

Isn't it ludicrous to imagine that a government can be "run like a business" while remaining dependent on taxes for its continuation? I submit that the only people who wish to see our government "run like a business" are other businesses; they profit by dealing with civil servants who personally have nothing at stake. Ya cain't have it both ways -- if you run it like a business then stop collecting taxes!Governments are typically in no danger of "going out of business," and government employees will continue to have secure jobs regardless of performance, as long as the tax dollars flow -- enough said!

Posted by: Jean Hess | July 10, 2007 4:01 PM

Jean Hess, you are confused. If the Government is run like a private business, it means that it wil be run more efficiently. Quite often, there are funded projects, divisions, and groups that are given the ax and government workers have lost their jobs. You are delirious if you think that government jobs are "secure".

Posted by: Anonymous | July 10, 2007 7:56 PM

I can't wait to see your articles posted not on a holiday weekend so readers will get a chance to see it. Maybe you can ask the editors at the Post to explain this curious placement of your important stories. Are these guys friends of theirs?

The first of several Post stories by Scott Higham and Robert O'Harrow on Tom Davis and his own campaign finance scandal followed this formula. It ran on Friday, July 28, 2006 before the July 4th weekend. Washington, DC was empty by then, and most holiday travelers were on the road. Tom Davis couldn't have asked for better scheduling if he had selected the date himself.

Because it's customary to complete a series before running the first article, the following articles in this entire series should have been ready to publish by that July date. Nevertheless, the next article in the series would not run until another holiday - the Wednesday before Thanksgiving. During those 4 months since the first article, Davis's re-election race was over, and he had spent $3.5 million of the campaign contributions from PACs and government contractors to win the election. Congress had recessed, as in July, the city was empty, and most holiday travelers were going through airport security. Davis must have wondered how this good fortune could continue.

But it did last last. The third installment did not run until almost two weeks later, and on a Saturday in December. Saturday is one of the lowest circulation days for most newspapers.

Posted by: AndreaC | July 10, 2007 11:02 PM

Jean Hess, "run like a business" says you have management controls in place, reporting to shareholders, and flexibility in hiring and promotions. (The Federal Goverment has one of the most archaic hiring and staffing systems around!) In some sense, it is already BETTER than some businesses, because accountability controls are in place, and you can complain to the boss (your Senator/Rep), unlike the electric company or your cell carrier!

Posted by: Mike | July 12, 2007 9:31 AM

Which business should be the role model for the govt.....Enron, Healthsouth, etc.? Doesn't anyone read Dilbert? We have some magical thinking going on with the idea that corporations are more efficient than govt in delivering all services. Profit is the underlying motive for all business. It is not the motive that drives govt.

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I recently watched a movie title "Iraq for Sale" which I recommend to anyone who has not watched it. The two companies that this movie focuses on are Halliburton and Keller, Brown, and Root(KBR). According to allegations in this movie Halliburton and KBR, who together hold the majority of the "no bid" contracts in Iraq, grossly overcharged the government for services rendered, and products supplied; and worse yet this is taxpayer money.
My questions is, shouldn't these companies be charged under the "False Claims Act"?

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