FEMA Cancels Puerto Rico Aid Contract For Slow Deliveries


The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) reportedly hired a small-time contractor who failed to deliver meals to hurricane-ravaged Puerto Rico.

The documents referenced by the Democrat lawmakers on the House Oversight Committee (HOC) on Tuesday showed FEMA hired a contractor in October 2017 to deliver 30 million meals to the hurricane-ravaged Puerto Rico for a reported $156 million out of which only 50,000 meals were delivered.

This isn’t the first instance where FEMA had awarded contract to a small company in efforts to restore a semblance of balance to the region. The controversy surround a $300 million contract awarded to Whitefish Energy Holdings, a small Montana firm, despite lack of experience to restore the island’s power. The contract was later terminated.

According to reports, FEMA reportedly awarded the contract to Tribute Contract LLC — a small Atlanta-based company operated by a single employee — but due to inadequate manpower, the company failed to  meet the deadlines in deliveries.

According to the company’s owner Tiffany Brown, after winning the contract the company made 50,000 deliveries before it was terminated for delays in keeping up with the deliveries.

Brown provided documents to CNN that showed FEMA terminated the agreement on Oct. 23, 20 days after it was signed for failure to comply with the deliveries.

FEMA declined to comment regarding the hiring of the company to make the deliveries but said the termination did not affect food deliveries to the region. 

Puerto Rico A man surveys a house that was washed away by heavy surf during the passing of Hurricane Maria in Manati, Puerto Rico, Oct. 6, 2017. Photo: RICARDO ARDUENGO/AFP/Getty Images

On Tuesday morning, U.S. Rep. Elijah Cummings and Tracey Plaskett, the congressional delegate from Virgin Islands, wrote a letter to the HOC chairman Trey Gowdy seeking his attention to the failed $156 million contract awarded to Tribute.

“One of the primary reasons FEMA failed to deliver these meals is because it inexplicably awarded a contract worth approximately $156 million to deliver 30 million emergency meals to a tiny, one-person company with a history of struggling with much smaller contracts,” Cummings and Plaskett said in the letter.

“It is unclear why FEMA or any agency would have proceeded with a contract worth $156 million in light of this company’s poor contracting history and these explicit warnings,” they added.

Gowdy’s spokesperson Amanda Gonzalez said the chairman was unaware about the incident until the letter arrived.

Puerto Rico, struck by hurricane Maria in September 2017, is striving to recover from the worst natural disasters to ravage it in 90 years. The U.S. territory also has a combined pension and bond debt of $120billion, reports said.

Hurricane Maria that swept through Puerto Rico on Sept. 20 killed dozens and left the people without power for several days along with limited access to clean water, medicines and food. Earlier reports had alleged that FEMA was going to cease aid after power was restored on the Caribbean island, which is still left without any access to basic amenities. Following harsh criticism, FEMA said it will continue to provide aid, however it seem to have failed to deliver aid to the region for the second time.

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