Feb. 7 (UPI) — A small FEMA-contracted firm failed to deliver 30 million emergency meals to hurricane victims in Puerto Rico, two Democratic House representatives said.
Atlanta-based Tribute Contracting’s $156 million federal contract was terminated “with cause” after the one-woman firm delivered only 50,000 of the 30 million meals requested by FEMA, Reps. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., and Stacey Plaskett, D-Virgin Islands wrote in a letter to House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Rep. Trey Gowdy, R-S.C.
The two representatives called for Gowdy to issue a subpoena to FEMA seeking documents “relating to its failure to provide tens of millions of emergency meals” to Puerto Rico victims.
“It is difficult to fathom how FEMA could have believed that this tiny company had the capacity to perform this $156 million contract,” Cummings and Plaskett wrote.
Tiffany Brown, the owner and sole employee of Tribute, said she was awarded the contract because she was able to submit a proposal to supply the 30 million meals “at the cheapest cost.” She added FEMA was aware she was unable to independently finance the production and delivery of the meals in such a short timeframe.
Brown said she “worked 24 hours a day, 7 days a week” and subcontracted two companies, Cooking with a Star and Breedlove Foods, to try to fulfill the order but both companies stopped producing meals after they didn’t receive payment in a timely manner.
A FEMA spokeswoman told CNBC there were “ample commodity supplies in the pipeline” at the time of Tribute’s termination and food distribution wasn’t affected. Brown was ultimately paid $255,000 for the 50,000 meals.
Cummings and Plaskett noted FEMA’s decision was even more “incomprehensible” after noting Tribute had a history of failing to fulfill much smaller government contracts.
The federal prison system ended contracts with Tribute valued at less than $100,000 on four occasions after the firm failed to deliver food products.
The Government Publishing Office also “terminated for default” a contract to produce 3,000 tote bags with a Marine Corps logo in 2014 due to Tribute’s “inability to produce the job per specifications.”
In 2016 the Government Publishing Office issued a warning regarding Tribute and determined the firm would be ineligible for any contracts worth more than $30,000 through Jan. 7, 2019.