By Jeryl Bier, The Weekly Standard
As the sequester bore down on Washington, the dire warnings from the Obama administration gave the impression that wild horses couldn't drag another dime out of the treasury for a whole host of vital government services. Aircraft carrier refueling, the Head Start program, and White House tours were among the high profile victims.
However, as it turned out, wild horses, with a little help from burros, managed to drag $6,000,000 out of the taxpayers' wallets for Helicopter Flight Services two weeks after the sequester went into effect. The same government website that posted the contracts for Vice President Biden's London and Paris hotel costs and Paris limo costs has the details:
Related documents show that the purpose of the contract is to provide on call helicopter flight services to support transportation of personnel and/or cargo in support of natural resource missions along with other administrative and related activities as directed by the Government in support of the "Wild Horse and Burro" (WHB).
When asked for clarification on the contract, Joshua Carter of the Interior Department replied via email:
The contract awarded to Skyhawk Helicopter Services is an indefinite delivery indefinite quantity type contract, which means that while the Government knows they will need these services at some point over the course of the next year, we don't know exactly when we'll need them nor do we know exactly how much of the service. Actual services will be ordered via the issuance of task orders for specific amounts and timeframe. The $6M figure is the contract ceiling meaning that the total of all orders issued over the life of the contract will not exceed $6M. So while the contract is considered a $6M contract, the likelihood of the actual workload reaching that amount is minimal.
According to a Bureau of Land Management budget document, a total of $76,758,000 was included for the National Wild Horse and Burro Program in the Fiscal Year 2012 continuing resolution passed by Congress and signed by the president.
Days after the sequester took effect, a two-day Wild Horse & Burro Advisory Board Meeting was held at the Sheraton Oklahoma City Hotel in Oklahoma and included discussions on population growth suppression, ecotourism, and herd area repopulation.