The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is reporting that a $156 million contract to deliver meals to Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria was never completely fulfilled. Furthermore, the contract wasn’t even assigned to a reliable company with a background in disaster relief. Instead, it was assigned to entrepreneur Tiffany Brown, an entrepreneur with five prior cancelled government contracts under her belt.
• Brown contracted a wedding caterer with just 11 employees to aid her in shipping the meals. The company, who is based in Atlanta, freeze-dried meals and then sent them on to Puerto Rico.
• A contract stipulation stating that all meals had to be shipped in self-heating containers was never fulfilled. In the time she was expected to have delivered 18.5 million meals, Brown and the catering company delivered just 50,000.
• Shortly after the first round of deliveries, FEMA pulled the contract, citing failures in compliance. These failures included the low volume of meals shipped and the lack of self-heating containers, both of which were required as part of Brown’s contract.
• FEMA contract overseer Carolyn Ward didn’t mince words when she delivered the cancellation notice. “Do not ship another meal. Your contract is terminated. This is a logistical nightmare.”
• The cancelled contract is only one of many problematic contracts assigned during natural disasters over the last decade. Many are raising questions about FEMA’s proficiency and capability to respond to disasters and emergencies.
• FEMA first came under fire for its ability to respond after Hurricane Katrina, when a bipartisan congressional investigation revealed they put little effort into securing advanced contracts. Some are drawing parallels between the government organization’s response then and now.
Do you think FEMA is using their finds effectively? What would YOU change?