Contract Concerns Continue

October 21, 2010

Vice President Wants to Review Ada Contract

And why wouldn’t he? A sole-source contract that was approved and awarded to a company before the company even had a business license is more than a little disconcerting!

The Vice-President oversees the ARRA money, including the $100 million awarded to the CNMI. The Marianas Variety reported:
Congressman Gregorio C. Sablan is asking Gov. Benigno R. Fitial for a copy of the federally funded contract with Ada’s Integrated Professional Solutions LLC which will be provided to Biden. 
In his letter to Fitial yesterday, Sablan said Biden’s Recovery Act office has contacted the CNMI congressman, requesting for a copy of the controversial contract. 
Biden’s office, Sablan said, is also asking about the specific agency account from which the contract is funded as well as the specific funding amounts. 
On Tuesday, Sablan wrote Biden a letter asking for advice on how to ensure that any challenge to Ada’s contract will not result in an interruption in the availability of American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funds provided to the cash-strapped CNMI government. 
Expressing concern about the sole-source contract, Sablan told Biden that the controversy is getting wide media coverage and “there seems to be significant public indignation.”
The Governor’s press release announcing that the contract was awarded stated that Ada was the only person capable of fulfilling the job. However, there were other people, including a program manager, who were capable of fulfilling the duties and may have wanted to bid on the job.

The Saipan Tribune reported:
Delegate Gregorio Kilili C. Sablan, in a letter yesterday to Gov. Benigno R. Fitial, said the vice president is requesting not only a copy of Ada's contract but other related information as well.

“The vice president's office has also asked for information about the specific agency account from which this contract is funded, the specific funding amounts, and whether the CNMI Department of Commerce made the local award or some other agency of the CNMI government,” Sablan told Fitial.

Press secretary Angel Demapan, when asked for comment yesterday, said the Fitial administration “will be contacting the vice president's office to provide the information it is requesting.”

…Sablan said he is not in a position to make any judgment on the particular circumstances of the sole-source contract for ARRA management in the CNMI.

But he sought the advice of the Recovery Act's office “on how to ensure that any challenge to this no-bid, sole-source contract that may arise will not result in an interruption of the use or availability of the Recovery Act funds that have been generating new jobs, as well as saving existing ones, and spurring economic activity” in the CNMI.

“Your administration has made rigorous efforts to avoid any fraud or abuse in the management and implementation of ARRA funds,” Sablan told Biden in an Oct. 19 letter.
It's good to know that someone is concerned about how and if the controversial contract will impact the CNMI's ARRA funding.

Desk Audit

The DOI expected the desk audit completed by Management Analysis, Inc. to be conducted on CHC and not on the DPS and DCCA according to the Marianas Variety:
The U.S. Office of Insular Affairs provided a technical assistance grant to the CNMI government so it could review the Commonwealth Health Center’s organizational structure.

But the Fitial administration instead awarded a $360,000 contract for the desk audit of the Department of Community and Cultural Affairs and the Department of Public Safety.

Variety also learned that the terms in the request for proposal that the administration provided to the eight bidders were different from what was conducted by Virginia-based Management Analysis Inc., which won the contract.

One of MAI’s managers is Gov. Benigno R. Fitial lobbyist, Lynn A. Knight. It’s local agent is Tan Holdings corporate affairs manager Ed Arriola Jr.

Some of the losing bidders told this reporter that they felt misled by the administration.

When the administration requested for the technical assistant grant two years ago, it listed CHC, the Commonwealth Utilities Corp., the Public School System, the Department of Public Works and the Department of Community and Cultural Affairs as the entities it wanted assessed.

The total cost of the project would be $1.4 million — $433,361 for CHC; $310,339 for CUC; $294,487 for PSS; $238,363 for DPW; and $179,219 for DCCA.

The project, the grant request stated, would “result in right-sizing existing government programs, thus realizing service savings opportunities while continuing to meet program objectives.”

It would also “develop a list of recommended jobs that will be in-demand. To accommodate the employees who will be affected by the organizational assessment, the Office of Personnel Management and the Department of Labor will arrange a job fair with the private sector.”
The Variety reported the timeline of the desk audit contract:
• May 12, 2008, OPM Director Isidro K. Seman and training director Peter C. Eche came up with an RFP for the project that will be implemented in the five departments.

• The RFP presented to the eight vendors including MAI.

• May 19, 2008, OIA Director Nikolao Pula sent Fitial a notification of grant award amounting to $360,000.  Pula told Fitial in his letter, “These federal funds are provided to assist the CNMI in obtaining a qualified firm to conduct an organizational review for CHC.”

The review, Pula said, should “focus on cost reduction, utilizing a structure and proven methodology to help the CNMI government make sound business decisions on downsizing, outsourcing and privatization while minimizing the social economic impacts.”

Pula said the funds “are not to be used for any purpose other than that for which they are offered without prior approval from OIA.”

“Any substantial change in the scope of work or project budget must be submitted to the grant manager. The project revisions shall not be implemented until the OIA grant manager sends written approval to the grantee,” Pula added. 
The governor's press secretary, Angel Demapan said because the award was reduced from the original amount,  the CNMI was allowed to choose what departments would be audited.

According to the Variety, "Demapan said bids that were submitted were way above the funding level provided by OIA."

It would be interesting to read all of the bids and to learn why and when MAI was selected to conduct the desk audit.


Anonymous said...

This is the most corrupt government in the history of the CNMI. Watch, soon we will get no more US funding.

Anonymous said...

Did anyone else notice that the Tribune has not even covered the MAI Lynn Knight story?

Saipan Writer said...

Anon 9:05-that's not exactly true.

Today's Tribune headline screams the story about Biden undertaking review.

Anonymous said...

I noticed it. She's a Tan-man (or in this case "woman"). As far as they're concerned, it's news not fit for print. Where's Ed?

Anonymous said...

Has anyone noticed that Mike Ada's contract is NOT included in the list of CNMI ARRA contracts awarded?

The administration found the time to update their website (which links to the ARRA website) to include this press release:

but not the time to post the contract for the new (old) CNMI state lead for ARRA?

Isn't Mike's new (old) job to ensure CNMI compliance with ARRA reporting requirements? Shouldn't his contract be publicly posted too?

Wendy said...

Anonymous 5:19

Yes, I noticed. I have gone to the web site every day to search for the Ada contract, which by ARRA regulations should have been posted. Under the link
"transparency" there are awarded contracts and the Ada contract is conspicuously absent.

Jane, anonymous 9:05 is correct. The Saipan Tribune has not even written one article about MAI being awarded the desk audit contract and any links to former Tan employees. It looks like they may have received preferential treatment in the bidding process as today's MV story suggests.

Anonymous said...

It only shows how corrupt the Fitial and the CNMI gov't is... manipulating every transactions to favor only the chosen few, even if it means breaking the laws or making short cuts. It's been very evident.
Shame on them all... if ever there is still shame left. All fatty faces in the most corrupt gov't. Ir's the poorest of the poor that are affected.

Anonymous said...

The biggest shame is that reform advocates are wasting such an incredible amount of energy on personal attacks, stoking envy, inciting outrage, and jumping to conclusions.

[Mike Ada's business license is a perfect example. Anyone who has gotten one knows it takes a while between initial application and final processing. CNMI Contracts are often submitted with the business license application receipt (indicating payment and a facially valid application) as an attachment.]

Instead of acting like crabs in a bucket or surfing waves of hatred, we should be promoting our superior ideas.

How about a citizen's initiative that all CNMI procurement and contracts, whether federally or locally funded, be posted online?

Wendy said...

Write it , I'll post it!

Anonymous said...

Noni 8:31
A corrupt government cannot reform if the corruption is not brought to light. The"kill the messengers" view of yours does nothing to promote honest government.

Anonymous said...

Who's "wasting time"? What are you doing? At least they're shining light on this garbage. If not for them, this and a lot of the croneism would be swept under the carpet. Anonymous 8:31 is targeting the wrong people. The crooks are over there.