The contract was awarded on October 3, 2017. Twenty days later, FEMA terminated the contract "for cause" after having accepted only 50,000 meals - 29 million meals short of their goal. Tribute explained that the company didn't have the capacity to produce 30 million meals and the subcontractors hired to produce the meals, stopped work after they didn't receive payment.
The House Committee found it "unfathomable" that FEMA could have believed that this tiny company had the capacity to perform this $156 million contract. The Committee wrote that while Tribute might have been the lowest price, there was no analysis of the company's ability to deliver on the contract. It was clear that Tribute did not have sufficient financial resources of its own to support this expansive contract. Based on Tribute's lack of experience in large-scale disaster relief and its limited financial capacity, FEMA should have raised serious questions about whether the company could meet the contract terms - especially since they concerned such a critical need.
The Committee then provided a litany of problems that the Government experiences with Tribute over the years.
- Cancelled a $27 thousand contract for food because Tribute did not deliver
- Cancelled a $57 thousand contract for bakery and cereal products due to Tribute's inability to deliver
- Terminated for default a $10 thousand contract for meat products
- Terminated for default a $30 thousand contract for bakery and cereal products
- Terminated for default a contract for 3,000 tote bags with the Marine Corps logo because they didn't meet specifications.
More troubling, according to the Committee was the fact that the GPO (Government Printing Office) issued a stern warning to other Government agencies that Tribute would be ineligible for any contracts over $30,000 through January 2019.
The Committee is obviously looking for someone within FEMA to take responsibility for the fiasco and is requesting information from FEMA's files. We expect that hearings will ensue. We'll keep you appraised.