The U.S. government has committed to spend a record-high $1.1 trillion with companies holding government contracts "plagued by waste, fraud, abuse or mismanagement," according to a new report by the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee.
The report blames the rise in bad spending on a sharp increase in noncompetitive contracting and a general increase in the use of private companies to perform government functions.
More than $200 billion in taxpayer money was spent on projects for which only one or a handful of companies submitted bids, the committee found.
That figure has more than tripled since 2000, according to the report, and now comprises more than half of all government spending outside of entitlement programs like Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security.
"The numbers -- there's not an iota of justification for more than half of all contracts being no- or limited-bid contracts," said Keith Ashdown of Taxpayers for Common Sense, a non-partisan Washington, D.C.-based group which scrutinizes federal spending.
Ashdown said he doubted senior government officials were letting so many troubled no-bid contracts to "cronies" but were doing it out of laziness.
"They knew that, until a few months ago, Congress wasn't minding the store," he told the Blotter on ABCNews.com, referring to the Democrats' takeover of the House and Senate last November. "They could do whatever they wanted."
According to the report, the committee based its findings on a federal database of government spending, and more than 700 reports by government auditing and investigations offices.
In a fact sheet released in response to the report, the Bush administration said it was "committed to strengthened use of competition and effective contract management and oversight."
This post has been updated.