Another government contract to provide relief to Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria is coming under scrutiny. The reasons, as spelled out in the New York Times, are pretty clear: FEMA awarded a one-woman company out of Atlanta—a firm that had zero experience in large-scale disasters—a $156 million contract to provide 30 million meals. FEMA canceled the contract 20 days later, having received only 50,000 of the 18.5 million meals that were due at the time. Still, Tribute Company, owned by entrepreneur Tiffany Brown, was paid $255,000 for those 50,000 meals, reports CNBC. Brown is now seeking a $70 million settlement for termination of the contract, while the two subcontractors she hired might sue her for breach of contract.
"It is difficult to fathom how FEMA could have believed that this tiny company had the capacity to perform this $156 million contract," wrote Democratic Reps. Elijah Cummings and Stacey Plaskett in a letter to Trey Gowdy, chair of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee. They want the House panel to subpoena FEMA for all related documents. The Times story suggests that Brown didn't win the contract because of political favoritism but rather because she is adept at working the government contract system. She described herself to the newspaper as "almost like a broker" in that respect. However, she has five previous contract terminations on her record, albeit for much smaller jobs.