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US taxpayers paying for feasibility studies for foreign countries

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USTDA LogoLooking for a project that pays well and involves travel overseas? The U.S. Trade and Development Agency may have just the opportunity, with four contracts up for bid – totaling over $2.3 million.

The contracts are advertised on the Federal Business Opportunities website, which notes there are currently 29,300 opportunities. They call for offering technical assistance, training or feasibility studies. Private companies can bid for projects funded by public dollars.

A feasibility study for a smart grid project in Kazakhstan is worth $614,615, for example. Electric power upgrades are needed for the county’s 2.2 million residents after poor infrastructure and billing problems cost it vital revenue. A second electrical transmission feasibility study for Ghana is worth $655,000.

The Chilean government is looking for a way to improve access to global markets and to find a cost effective way to move cargo for “economic expansion.” The first step, according to the Federal Business Opportunities website, is to let the United States fund the feasibility study, to the tune of $620,000.

A little closer to home, Puebla, Mexico is looking for help with their “intelligent transportation system.” This $455,000 feasibility study will analyze the implementation of “bus rapid transit” in six key corridors.

Kazakhstan power
Photo credit: Jason Howe

While each “grant” opportunity states that only U.S. firms and individuals may bid on the “USTDA financed activity,” goods and services can come from within the United States or a host country. But the winning bidder can only use subcontractors from a host country for up to 20 percent of the grant amount.

The U.S. Trade and Development Agency was created 20 years ago through the Jobs through Exports Act of 1992. According to its 2012 annual report, “feasibility studies link foreign project sponsors with U.S. businesses,” claiming that for every dollar spent by the agency, $63 in exports were generated. In all of 2012, nearly $43 million was spent on projects in other countries.

Are those White House tours open yet?

H/T: American Spectator

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