End Run, Via Alaska
Government Inc. directs your attention to this story in The Post, about an FDA public relations contract.
It speaks volumes, through many e-mails, about the state of federal procurement in America thes days.
Contracting specialists contacted about the circumstances seemed exasperated by both the assiduous efforts to avoid competition (through the use of an Alaska native corporation), and the blatant plan to direct the ANC to pass on the work to a Washington D.C. public relations firms.
"A competition, as prescribed by government policy, was not held to get the lowest bid for the $300,000 contract. Instead, FDA officials came up with a plan to ensure the work would go to a Washington public relations firm with ties to the FDA official arranging the deal, according to an examination by The Washington Post.
"The plan used a circuitous route around the standard government contracting procedures. The contract was awarded in July to Alaska Newspapers Inc., a firm owned by an Alaska Native corporation that does not have to compete for federal work because it qualifies for special set-asides. The idea was for ANI to hand over the work to Qorvis Communications, the Washington firm, documents show.
"After being made aware of The Post's findings, FDA deputy commissioner John Dyer said this week that he had suspended the contract and ordered an independent investigation.
NEWS FLASH: The Energy and Commerce Committee this afternoon released several letters to the FDA and the companies involved in the contract, seeking more details. Here's the letter to the Department of Health and Human Services, blasting the contract as a "reckless use of taxpayer dollars" and "an affront to the American taxpayer."
More from The Post story:
"Steven Schooner, co-director of the government procurement law program at George Washington University, said he has rarely seen such a detailed example of officials and contractors working to avoid competition.
"'The story line is as bad as anything I've ever heard,' he said. 'It's not transparent. It's not competitive. It's not arm's length.'"
"Rep. John D. Dingell (D-Mich.), chairman of the Committee on Energy and Commerce, which oversees the FDA, said his panel also would investigate the contract.
"'The agency chose to use its limited resources to save face instead of saving the public health,' said Dingell, whose committee has led the oversight of the FDA. 'This sham of a contract calls into question the integrity of federal contracts awarded to small businesses and Alaska Native corporations.'"
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Posted by: Been on Both Sides II | October 3, 2008 9:21 AM
Posted by: conserned | October 6, 2008 2:10 PM
Posted by: anc contract abuse | October 6, 2008 4:48 PM
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