The U.S. Agency for International Development quietly made the change despite criticism over how it has managed billions of dollars spent on reconstruction contracts.
In January 2010, USAID said companies would compete for the electricity project, awarded to Black & Veatch Corp. of Overland Park, Kan., a company that the agency earlier had chastised for big cost overruns and busted deadlines on a diesel-fueled power plant in Kabul. But the government let 10 months pass before deciding to award a contract without competitive bids, saying that it couldn't spend more time seeking offers.
A rival company that was interested in bidding, Symbion Power LLC of Washington, D.C., said USAID broke its promise and spent more than it should to expand electricity into war-ravaged Helmand and Kandahar provinces in southern Afghanistan.
"I was stunned because of the cost of it," Symbion chief executive Paul Hinks said. (Continues here)