Iraq: Questions Raised About Creative Associates Contract
The Washington firm awarded a government contract worth up to $157 million to rebuild Iraq's educational system may have helped shape the proposal it was then asked to bid on, according to a critical internal government review.
The inspector general's office at the U.S. Agency for International Development said Creative Associates International Inc. participated in a roundtable discussion with agency officials about
The June 6 memo from the inspector general's office said procurement officials kept such limited records of the meeting that it couldn't conclude whether Creative Associates "gained a resulting competitive advantage." But Bruce N. Crandlemire, assistant inspector general for audit, recommended further review
"Given the magnitude of the contract and the need for confidence in USAID's procurement process, we believe that additional review is in order," the report said.
Stephen A. Horblitt, spokesman for Creative Associates, declined to comment.
USAID has awarded eight initial contracts in the $1.7 billion
USAID Administrator Andrew S. Natsios asked the inspector general to review the first contracts after members of Congress complained about limited competition. The agency said it used limited bidding because of the need to get aid to
In the other review completed so far, the inspector general found that the agency eliminated the security requirement it used to limit the group of eligible bidders on an initial $4 million seaport administration contract -- after discovering that the company it selected, Seattle-based Stevedoring Services of America, did not have the required clearance.
The General Accounting Office is conducting a separate investigation of the bidding. And both the House and Senate have passed measures requiring government agencies awarding
He said he agreed with the inspector general's recommendation for more review but added: "I don't agree that it should be done by USAID's Office of Procurement. With the IG already raising questions about the fairness of the process that was used, that review has to be done independent of USAID."
USAID spokeswoman Ellen M. Yount said the agency's procurement officials disagree with the IG's findings. "You cannot shut down contact with the outside world in terms of development of plans or discussions with outside experts on these issues," she said.
In inviting firms to bid on the education contract, USAID officials told the IG that they did not need to conduct "market research" required by acquisition rules because officials already knew enough to determine which companies to pick, according to the memo.
Among the other firms invited to bid were DevTech Systems Inc. of