Congress

Senators demand probe of FEMA awards to inexperienced bidders after Hurricane Maria

Two U.S. senators called Wednesday for an investigation into FEMA’s awarding of multimillion-dollar contracts to companies with “little to no experience” doing the work required in Puerto Rico in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria.

The senators were reacting to reporting by McClatchy on the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s contracting process in the wake of the Sept. 20, 2017, storm that devastated the U.S. territory in the Caribbean.

Sens. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., and Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., released a letter Wednesday that highlighted contracts awarded to a Puerto Rican truck-parts supplier called La Casa del Camionero, which McClatchy reported last month has been awarded more than $40 million despite having never done any work for FEMA before and lacking direct expertise in the work being contracted out by the agency.

“The issue here is that FEMA continues to award contracts to companies who have little to no experience, and in doing so, at the very least raises questions about its process for vetting its suppliers,” Blumenthal and Warren wrote in the letter to Acting Homeland Security Inspector General John Kelly. FEMA is part of the Department of Homeland Security.

McClatchy reported in September that FEMA had awarded numerous contracts to inexperienced contractors.. La Casa del Camionero was one such example.

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The truck parts supplier was awarded a $24.7 million contract in January to store and deliver thousands of gallons diesel fuel daily. The company had only months before gotten its first federal contract and, in total, had been awarded less than $50,000 in contracts overall by other government agencies. FEMA would go on to grant more than $40 million overall in contracts for fuel storage and delivery.

Kevin G. Hall: 202-383-6038, @KevinGHall
Ben Wieder: 202-383-6125, @Benbwieder
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