Here’s another sneaky move by the president who promised us the most transparent administration in United States History. Fox News has learned that two weeks ago, the Obama administration awarded a $25 million federal contract for work in Afghanistan to Checchi & Company, a company owned by Vincent V. Checchi, a prominent Democratic campaign contributor. The Contract was awarded without entertaining competitive bids.
Despite President Obama’s long history of criticizing the Bush administration for “sweetheart deals” with favored contractors, the Obama administration this month awarded a $25 million federal contract for work in Afghanistan to a company owned by a Democratic campaign contributor without entertaining competitive bids
…The contract, awarded on Jan. 4 to Checchi & Company Consulting, Inc., a Washington-based firm owned by economist and Democratic donor Vincent V. Checchi, will pay the firm $24,673,427 to provide “rule of law stabilization services” in war-torn Afghanistan.
A synopsis of the contract published on the USAID Web site says:
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The awardee has been awarded a sole-source contract to provide Rule of Law Stabilization services. The award was made under the authority of 40 USC 113(e)(2) and AIDAR 706.302-70 as approved by a waiver (AAPD 03-06) signed by the USAID Administrator on February 15, 2002, and subsequently extended to February 15, 2010.
The objective of the Rule of Law Stabilization (RLS) program is to develop the capacity of Afghanistan’s justice system to be accessible, reliable, and fair. The program will support this objective by focusing on both the state and traditional justice systems. In support of the state system, the program will advance key reforms in the judiciary and the law schools to develop the capacity of the state courts and to train the next generation of legal professionals.
Does it make sense that an economist, who happens to give a lot of money to the Democratic party, is the only firm that help Afghanistan create a legal system?
The legality of the arrangement as a “sole source,” or no-bid, contract was made possible by virtue of a waiver signed by the USAID administrator. “They cancelled the open bid on this when they came to power earlier this year,” a source familiar with the federal contracting process told Fox News.
“That’s kind of weird,” said another source, who has worked on “rule of law” issues in both Afghanistan and Iraq, about the no-bid contract to Checchi & Company. “There’s lots of companies and non-governmental organizations that do this sort of work.”
The big cover-up has started:
Contacted by Fox News, Checchi confirmed that his company had indeed received the nearly $25 million contract but declined to say why it had been awarded on a no-bid basis, referring a reporter to USAID. Asked if he or his firm had been aware that the contract was awarded without competitive bids, Checchi replied: “After it was awarded to us, sure. Before, we had no idea.”
…Asked about the contract, USAID Acting Press Director Harry Edwards at first suggested his office would be too “busy” to comment on it. “I’ll tell it to the people in Haiti,” Edwards snapped when a Fox News reporter indicated the story would soon be made public. The USAID press office did not respond further.
Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., the ranking Republican on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, said Fox News’ reporting on the no-bid contract in this case “disturbed” him.
Issa has written to USAID Administrator Rajiv Shah requesting that the agency “produce all documents related to the Checchi contract” on or before Feb. 5. Citing the waiver that enabled USAID to award the contract on a no-bid basis, Issa noted that the exemption was intended to speed up the provision of services in a crisis environment.
Yet “on its face,” wrote Issa to Shah, “the consulting contract awarded to Checchi to support the Afghan justice system does not appear to be so urgent or attendant to an immediate need so as to justify such a waiver.”
Corporate rivals of Checchi were reluctant to speak on the record about the no-bid contract awarded to Checchi because they were afraid of retribution from the Obama Administration.
“We don’t want to be blackballed,” said the managing partner of a consulting firm that has won similar contracts. “You’ve got to be careful. We’re dealing here with people and offices that we depend on for our business.”
Still, the rival executive confirmed that open bidding on USAID’s lucrative Afghanistan “rule of law” contract was abruptly revoked by the agency earlier this year.
“It’s a mystery to us,” the managing partner said. “We were going to bid on it. The solicitation (for bids) got pulled back, and we do not know why. We may never know why. These are things that we, as companies doing business with the government, have to put up with.”
Didn’t President Obama promise that his administration would be the most transparent administration in history? Of all of the POTUS’ broken promises that is probably the most nefarious. There are so many examples of how the president has either forgotten, or is intentionally disregarding that promise.
For example there was the deliberate hiding of the cost of cap and trade, or hiding the middle class tax hikes in the Obamacare bill, not letting his Czars testify before congress, the stonewalling by Eric Holder regarding the voter intimidation by the black panthers, and most recently trying to invoke executive privilege to stop social secretary Desiree Rogers from testifying about Gate-Crasher-gate.The promise of putting the Heathcare negotiations on C-SPAN was also ignored. It wasn’t very surprising that President Obama decided to conference on transparency in government, and kept it secret.
As a candidate for president in 2008, then-Sen. Obama frequently derided the Bush administration for the awarding of federal contracts without competitive bidding.
“I will finally end the abuse of no-bid contracts once and for all,” the senator told a Grand Rapids audience on Oct. 2. “The days of sweetheart deals for Halliburton will be over when I’m in the White House.”
Those remarks echoed an earlier occasion, during a candidates’ debate in Austin, Texas on Feb. 21, when Mr. Obama vowed to upgrade the government’s online databases listing federal contracts.
“If (the American people) see a bridge to nowhere being built, they know where it’s going and who sponsored it,” he said to audience laughter, “and if they see a no-bid contract going to Halliburton, they can check that out too.”
Less than two months after he was sworn into office, President Obama signed a memorandum that he claimed would “dramatically reform the way we do business on contracts across the entire government.”
Flanked by aides and lawmakers at the Dwight D. Eisenhower Executive Office Building on March 4, Obama vowed to “end unnecessary no-bid and cost-plus contracts,” adding: “In some cases, contracts are awarded without competition….And that’s completely unacceptable.”
The March 4 memorandum directed the Office of Management and Budget to “maximize the use of full and open competition” in the awarding of federal contracts.
Federal campaign records show Checchi has been a frequent contributor to progressive and Democratic causes and candidates in recent years, including to Obama’s presidential campaign, and groups such as Move on and Actblue
Sources confirmed to Fox News that Checchi & Company is but one of a number of private firms capable of performing the work in Afghanistan for which USAID retained it.
For example, DPK Consulting, based in San Francisco and with offices in Washington, D.C. and elsewhere, states on its website that it has contracted with USAID and other federal agencies on more than 600 projects involving “governance and institutional development” across five continents.
Among DPK’s most recent projects are the establishment of a new public prosecutor’s office in Jenin, in the troubled West Bank area of the Palestinian Authority, and the improvement of court facilities in the Kyrgyz Republic in Central Asia. Similarly, BlueLaw International, based in Virginia, was awarded a $100 million contract by the State Department in April 2008 to strengthen the “rule of law” in Iraq.
Although Obama suggested in his remarks on March 4 that he hoped particularly to address problems associated with defense contracting, an Associated Press analysis last July found that the Defense Department frequently awards no-bid contracts under the aegis of the $787 billion stimulus program, and often at higher expense to U.S. taxpayers.
According to The AP, more than $242 million in federal contracts, or roughly a quarter of the Pentagon’s contract stimulus spending, was awarded through no-bid contracts. And while procurement officers say competitive bidding can actually cost the taxpayers more — because it involves delays and can thereby subject pricing for services and equipment to inflation — the AP analysis found that defense-related stimulus contracts awarded after competitive bidding saved the Pentagon $34 million, compared with $4.4 million when no bidding was involved.
Its good to have friends in high places, especially non-transparent ones.