Just one day prior to the partial government shutdown, the Obama administration slipped in a contract to help Kenyan and other East African power companies more effectively tap into the U.S. Treasury.

While the $300,000 award is a mere blip on the screen of the administration’s massive foreign assistance program, the purpose of the African “definitional mission,” or DM, is to help the White House in its “decision-making relative to the funding of activities to support projects in East Africa.”

Among the possible activities are the administration’s multi-billion-dollar Power Africa initiative and the U.S.-Africa Clean Energy and Finance program.

The U.S. Trade & Development Agency, an independent White House unit, on Sept. 30 formally selected Maryland-based 3E Consulting for the East Africa Renewable Energy DM.

USTDA will pay 3E Consulting to travel to Kenya and possibly Tanzania and Ethiopia to meet with regional energy industry representatives, according to a Scope of Work, or SOW, that WND discovered via routine database research.

The firm then will produce a report recommending projects it deems worthy of additional U.S. financial backing.

The DM will target as many as seven “clean energy projects for USTDA funding consideration in FY 2014,” the SOW says.

The agency partly will align its efforts with the Overseas Private Investment Corporation, or OPIC, another “independent” U.S. governmental organization.

Both USTDA and OPIC are routinely denounced as among the most duplicative and wasteful of all federal entities.

The two agencies plus the U.S. Export-Import Bank represent the most egregious examples of “corporate welfare waste,” the Cato Institute concluded in a 2005 report.

These and similar organizations “should be terminated,” contends the report’s author, Chris Edwards.

USTDA frequently awards contracts that simultaneously enrich U.S. companies and enable the funneling of resources to other nations. As WND recently reported, the agency is spending $100,000 to develop a guide for the Mexican government on how to obtain U.S. funding for a Mexico-wide infrastructure program worth hundreds of billions of dollars.

In the week preceding the shutdown, the U.S. Department of State separately awarded a pair of contracts worth over a quarter-billion dollars to the Alabama-based Caddell Construction Company to build new embassy compounds.

The Islamic Republic of Mauritania is the site of one such facility. Caddell Construction secured a $130 million contract in the West African nation.

The State Department in September also awarded the company a $125 million contract for an embassy project in The Hague, Netherlands.

Even as the partial government shutdown moves into its third week, the federal government apparently has found enough money for a contractor to advise Pakistani officials on how to develop capital markets.

The U.S. Agency for International Development on Day 10 of the shutdown issued a Personal Services Contract notice to hire an Islamabad-based Senior Economic Growth Adviser.

As of this writing, little else is known about the Pakistani capital markets endeavor. Although the agency notice referred to an attached document containing further details of the position, it neglected to actually post the attachment.

The U.S. Bureau of Prisons on the seventh day of the shutdown awarded a $56,000 contract to a Brooklyn wholesaler for about 20,000 packages of bread products.

While federal convicts are now assured of a steady stream of hamburger buns and hot dog rolls for FY 2014, corrections officers guarding the inmates are being forced to work without pay and without knowing how they will feed their own families.

In the days leading up to the partial shutdown, USAID awarded a $10 million contract to DevTech Systems to carry out the Community Action for Reading and Security, or CARS, project.

DevTech Systems will execute the CARS initiative in five Nicaraguan municipalities “where both education and crime statistics are notably worse than the national averages,” the solicitation says.

The goal of CARS is “to improve early grade reading outcomes,” but the project ultimately seeks to contribute to the reduction of “citizen insecurity” in that region, the document says.

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