Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Substantial Likelihood


NEW ORLEANS — A federal agency says there is "substantial likelihood" the Army Corps of Engineers acted improperly in handling a politically connected Florida company's $27 million flood-pump contract after Hurricane Katrina.

The Office of Special Counsel, an independent federal agency that handles whistleblower complaints, has asked Defense Secretary Robert Gates to respond to its review of allegations by Maria Garzino, an engineer who was one of dozens of Corps personnel brought to New Orleans after Katrina.


MWI's contract included a $5 million incentive to deliver the pumps by the start of the 2006 hurricane season. And Corps officials were under pressure to get New Orleans ready for the season, the first since Katrina flooded 80 percent of New Orleans and revealed deep-seated organizational and engineering troubles within the Corps.

MWI is owned by J. David Eller and his sons. Eller was once a business partner of former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush in a venture called Bush-El that marketed MWI pumps.