Posted: 1:54 am ET
Updated: May 12, 1:02 pm PT
Via CBS News:
The State Department will be spending at least $1,086,250 for the “listening tour” that Secretary of State Rex Tillerson launched Wednesday morning.
The department has contracted Insigniam, a private consulting firm, to conduct the review in a project they are calling the “Department of State organizational study.” The State Department has not replied to requests for comment on the review’s price tag and their decision to use Insigniam to carry out this review.
Tillerson and the Insigniam co-founder Nathan Owen Rosenberg served on the Boy Scouts of America board together in 2011. The State Department has not replied to requests for comment on the review’s price tag and their decision to use Insigniam to carry out this review.
After Bloomberg broke the news on April 27 that Secretary Tillerson is seeking a 9% workforce cut and has hired the consulting company Insigniam to conduct a survey, we started looking for the contract awarded. We wanted to see the scope of work and the statement of work requirement included in this contract. We were able to find a $60M Professional Staffing Support Contract awarded on April 5, an Intent to Sole Source $34K Representational Furnishings on April 24 on FedBizOpps where federal business opportunities are typically posted, but not this one.
We understand that Insigniam was elected under a “sole source” contract. On May 1st, we emailed the State Department’s Bureau of Public Affairs for information on how and when this contract was awarded since we have not been able to find the agency’s sole source justification for the job. As of this writing, the State Department has neither acknowledged nor responded to our inquiry.
We have since learned of three transactions (thanks Z!) issued to Insigniam LLC, a company based in Pennsylvania’s 2nd congressional district (PA02). The first contract SAQMMA17C0157 dated April 25, 2017 is valued at $850,000. The second contract SAQMMA17C0157 dated April 28, 2017 is valued at $236,250. The third contract SAQMMA17C0157 is dated April 29, 2017 and does not have an obligated value. The third contract’s “Reason for Modification” is listed as “M: Other Administrative Action.” All three contracts list May 30, 2017 as the “current” and “ultimate” completion date.
click on image to see the contracts via usaspending.gov
The funding for these contracts have been requested through the Bureau of Administration (State/A) but the Contracting Office is the State Department’s Acquisitions office (AQMMA). This is a definitive, firm fixed price contract. The cost or pricing data is listed as “W: Not Obtained — Waived.” The contract description says “Department of State Organizational Study.”
Multiple contractors interviewed but only 1 offer?
Under Competition Information, usaspending.gov lists this contract as “not competed”; the reason for the non-competition is listed as “Urgency.” This section also says “Number of Offers Received: 1.”
The State Department apparently told CBS News that “they interviewed multiple contractors for the project before selecting Insigniam.”
“Of the proposals reviewed, Insigniam’s was the most cost-effective for the expertise, scope, and timeline needed, including its ability to survey and provide analysis of large organizations,” a State Department official told CBS News.
So the State Department interviewed multiple contractors but those companies did not compete for this contract? And only one offer was received?
The company is listed on usaspending.gov as a partnership with 49 employees and an annual revenue of $12.7M. The contracting officer determined it as a “small business”, “woman owned” and a “self-certified disadvantage business.” Under competition information, however, these contracts indicate “no set aside used” and “no preference used.”
The GSA confirmed to us that “the agency will dictate whether they are required to use GSA schedules or directly from a vendor. GSA has no say in how a customer orders needed materials or services.”
We are aware of only one previous organizational study conducted at the State Department (if there’s more, let us know!). There was a study focused on the Foreign Service and was based on three management conferences held by the Department in 1965. It was conducted by Professor Chris Argyris of Yale University. There were a few others through the years; we’ll try and see if we can find a good list to post here.