While government incompetence is nothing new, suing the incompetent government you screwed out of $156 million is.
The Root is reporting that Tifanny Brown, an Atlanta woman whose one-person company was contracted by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to provide millions of meals to Puerto Rico in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria, only delivered a fraction of that, says FEMA’s to blame.
Tiffany Brown, who is listed as the only employee of Tribute Contracting, LLC, last year got a $156 million FEMA a contract to provide 30 million meals to Puerto Rico at a cost of $5.10 each.
According to a Congressional investigation, she was the lowest bidder.
Once Brown received the contract, she then subcontracted the job to two companies including a caterer in Atlanta, with 11 employees. So for those counting, that would be about 12 people delivering 30 million meals.
“[The subcontractor] told me she was experienced with this work,” Brown said to CBS News. “As time went on she would be able to hire additional people to scale up.”
Except that didn’t happen. Only 50,000 of the 30 million meals were delivered. FEMA says it terminated the contract “due to late delivery.”
FEMA says that the company was vetted, yet a Congressional inquiry led by House Democrats on the House Oversight committee revealed that Tribute had five previous government contracts terminated for “not delivering required food” and “inability to ship products.”
Ranking Member Elijah Cummings and Rep. Stacey Plaskett, who represents the U.S. Virgin Islands, sent a letter to Chairman Trey Gowdy on Friday, showing that Tribute had a history of failing to fulfill government contracts; one agency even issued a warning saying that they could not deliver on time.
“To issue a system-wide warning saying, this is not a company to do business with, then how could they have been prepared to do a $156 million contract with a one-person operation?” asked Rep. Plaskett.
For her part, Brown says, “My biggest mistake was not asking for more help.”
Cummings and Plaskett are asking for FEMA officials to be subpoenaed over this disaster.
“It is difficult to fathom how FEMA could have believed that this tiny company had the capacity to perform this $156 million contract,” Democrats wrote in the letter to Gowdy. “There have been numerous examples of disastrous contracting decisions by agencies that selected the lowest bidder without conducting an adequate analysis of the company’s ability to deliver on the contract.”
Here’s where it gets crazy.
Tiffany Brown is seeking a settlement of at least $70 million dollars from FEMA, according to ABC.
She says she wants to make sure the other companies she hired are “made whole” and are able to pay the debt they took on to fulfill the contract for 30 million meals. The government does not pay for meals up front but only after delivery.
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