As Coronavirus Cases Rise, Panel Launches Investigation into Problematic Contracts for Critical Supplies
Washington, D.C. (July 15, 2020) -- Chairman James E. Clyburn and all Democratic Members of the Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis have launched an investigation into contracts entered into by the Trump Administration to procure personal protective equipment (PPE), testing supplies, and other medical equipment, and the steps the Administration is taking to address ongoing supply shortages during the coronavirus outbreak.
In a letter to Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar, Defense Secretary Mark Esper, Homeland Security Acting Secretary Chad Wolf, and Veterans Affairs Secretary Robert Wilkie, the Members wrote:
“Recent reports indicate that federal agencies awarded contracts to businesses that had political connections to the Trump Administration, lacked federal contracting experience, and had been selected by the White House without competition or transparency. Some of these companies failed to provide the supplies promised. The Select Subcommittee is concerned that these contracting practices may have wasted taxpayer dollars and exacerbated shortages of critical supplies, contributing to the spread of the coronavirus and the death of Americans.”
Chairman Clyburn also sent letters to seven companies that were awarded questionable contracts: Zach Fuentes, LLC; AvMEDICAL, LLC; Phlow Corporation; AirBoss / Immediate Response Technologies, LLC; Fillakit, LLC; Federal Government Experts, LLC; and Panthera Worldwide, LLC.
At recent Select Subcommittee briefings, health care and nursing home workers shared stories of reusing and rationing supplies due to ongoing shortages. Internal Administration projections show that unless supplies are reused, expected demand for gowns and N95 masks will continue to outpace supply, including a projected shortage of approximately 100 million gowns and 40 million masks in July.
The Members’ letter continued: “On July 2, 2020, the Select Subcommittee held a hearing on these issues, in which Subcommittee Members raised concerns about the lack of a clear chain of command, the lack of a comprehensive federal plan to procure and distribute supplies, and the failure to implement robust, transparent contracting practices. The Subcommittee has concerns about several specific contracting practices that may be contributing to shortages of PPE and other supplies. …”
“The Subcommittee is seeking to determine why the Administration engaged in these contract practices, the impact of these practices on the availability of personal protective equipment and other supplies, and the steps the Administration is taking to address ongoing shortages.”
Read the Select Subcommittee’s letter to Secretary Azar, Secretary Esper, Acting Secretary Wolf, and Secretary Wilkie here.
Read Chairman Clyburn’s letters to contractors here: