The Democratic top house called on Watchdog on Wednesday to investigate a pandemic food support program launched under the Trump administration, which reportedly used contractors with “serious danger signs.”
The Farmers to Families Foodbox Program was first launched in May 2020 in response to the coronavirus pandemic. This allows the Department of Agriculture to use funds from pandemic bailouts to buy food directly from producers and distribute it to food banks and nonprofits that serve Americans in need. I did. According to the Government Accountability Office, $ 5.88 billion was mandated and $ 5.47 billion was spent over five rounds over the year.
“Today, in addition to completing an ongoing review of the program, I have added more to help the Inspector General’s office recover wasted money and mitigate future risks for US taxpayers. I’ll write to request that work be done, “said Congressman James Cliburn, DS.C. , Chairman of the House Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis, I have written Phyllis Fong to President of USDA Inspector. “Specifically, we ask OIG to assess the performance of the contract, including reviews of potential fraud and inefficiencies by the program contractor. Contractor review and guidance from the USDA program administrator. Appropriateness. ”For Cryburn report Based on the investigation, about the program by Democrats of the subcommittee, also released on Wednesday Released in August 2020..
The report focused on three contractors, Yegg, CRE8AD8, and Ben Holtz Consulting, who the Trump administration paid millions of dollars to support the program. According to the report, these companies were “unqualified” and “had a serious warning signal.”
For example, “The Trump administration has awarded Benholtz Consulting a $ 40 million contract, which was later canceled before payments were made,” the report said. “In the Resources section, Ben Holtz’s bid proposal states:” I have nothing. “This proposal also offered a very wide range of delivery capabilities. Boxes of 16-18 pounds of produce from 5,000 to 200,000 a week. ”
The Trump administration also did not monitor the performance of contracts for potential fraud and abuse. According to the report, it did not “protect taxpayers from price cuts” and the program was not in place to ensure that it met its intended purpose.
Another example quoted is “The Trump administration violated the terms of the contract and, despite some suspicious circumstances of delivery and delivery, $ 7.95 million for deliveries made outside the contract period. I approved the payment to Yegg. “
Yegg spokesman said Government executives “In the midst of a pandemic, Yeku took part in getting millions of dollars in food relief for poor families,” he said in a statement Thursday.
“We are proud of the work we have done for the American people, support the results of the Farmers to Families program, and are disappointed by the subcommittee’s report, which does not assess the mood of the crisis at the time. Or the speed at which Yegg and other participants in the program were able to launch a whole new supply chain for those in need, “said the spokesman. “After more than a year of investigation and full access to company documents and books, the subcommittee is eager to attack the previous administration and publishes a report full of speculation, half-truth, and hints. Was selected. “
Other companies did not immediately respond to comments.
In addition, the Trump administration “operated the foodbox program for political gain” by using the taxpayer’s dollars to include a letter from President Trump in the foodbox, the report said. It also mentions that in October 2020, the Special Advisory Board decided on the then Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue. Violated the hatch law In a summer speech.Regarding the program, he also called for Trump’s reelection
The Biden administration ended its food program on May 31st. Nevertheless, the Sub-Committee has issued seven recommendations on future food distribution programs such as USDA. .. ”
A Democratic staff member of the elected subcommittee stated that the study was a “limited case study” and therefore USDAIG should conduct a review of the entire program of the contractors involved.
Neither the USDA IG office nor the Republicans of the selected subcommittee responded to comments.
In the course of five rounds, GAO said, “243 contractors have delivered over 176 million food boxes to receiving organizations across the United States and the region by the end of the program.” It was delivered close to 78% of all counties in the United States. At least 20% of the population is in more than 89% of poor counties. “ report Published in September.
However, “Because the USDA did not systematically collect the necessary data, the USDA is helping contractors (that is, distributors of goods) keep their jobs and food production facing declining demand. We were unable to analyze the performance of the program in achieving the other two goals of helping others, “the report reports. Continued. “For example, USDA did not collect data on the number of jobs the contractor may have lost, but was ultimately retained as a result of participation in the program, and the number, category, and number of producers who participated. Whether the size, or pandemic, has reduced demand, or the sale of the type of product that the producer has offered to the program. ”
https://www.govexec.com/oversight/2021/10/lawmaker-requests-ig-probe-trump-covid-19-food-program/186112/ Congressman Requests IG Probe to Trump COVID-19 Food Program