Education Federal File

Caveat Emptor

By Vaishali Honawar — November 08, 2005 1 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

An official of the Government Accountability Office told a congressional panel last week that the federal government may have overpaid a company that contracted to provide portable classrooms for Mississippi schools damaged by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita.

In his Nov. 2 testimony before a House select committee investigating hurricane response, David E. Cooper, the GAO’s director of acquisition and sourcing management, said the watchdog agency of Congress was reviewing the contract and had “concerns that the government may be paying more than necessary.”

Rep. Bennie Thompson, D-Miss., asked for the investigation in September. In a Sept. 29 letter to the Department of Homeland Security’s inspector general, he said the federal government was paying $88,000 per mobile classroom, when the units should have cost $35,000 to $42,000 each. Rep. Thompson added that Akima Site Operations, which was awarded the contract by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers on behalf of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, does not have any “particular expertise in constructing or installing portable classrooms.”

Under the no-bid contract, Akima is to receive $39.5 million to provide 450 portable classrooms to Mississippi schools heavily damaged in the hurricanes, although another contractor, Kent Adams of the Mississippi-based Adams Home Center, had agreed to deliver and set up the same number of classrooms for around $26 million.

USA Today reported last month that Akima, based in North Carolina, is a subsidiary of a politically linked minority company called Nana Regional, based in Alaska. Federal rules allow Alaskan Native-owned firms to receive no-bid federal contracts worth more than the $3 million to $5 million limit applied to other minority-owned companies. The rules have drawn criticism from other companies and some members of Congress.

Mr. Cooper of the GAO told the House select committee last week that “since being awarded, the order [for portable classrooms] has been amended several times to adjust the type and quantity of classrooms provided and other work required,” and that the GAO questions “whether Corps contracting officials had sufficient knowledge to ensure a good acquisition outcome.”

He added that information in the Corps of Engineers’ contract files and other sources “suggest the negotiated prices were inflated.”

A version of this article appeared in the November 09, 2005 edition of Education Week

Events

This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
IT Infrastructure Webinar
A New Era In Connected Learning: Security, Accessibility and Affordability for a Future-Ready Classroom
Learn about Windows 11 SE and Surface Laptop SE. Enable students to unlock learning and develop new skills.
Content provided by Microsoft Surface
Classroom Technology K-12 Essentials Forum Making Technology Work Better in Schools
Join experts for a look at the steps schools are taking (or should take) to improve the use of technology in schools.
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Budget & Finance Webinar
The ABCs of ESSER: How to Make the Most of Relief Funds Before They Expire
Join a diverse group of K-12 experts to learn how to leverage federal funds before they expire and improve student learning environments.
Content provided by Johnson Controls

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

Education Briefly Stated: April 27, 2022
Here's a look at some recent Education Week articles you may have missed.
9 min read
Education Briefly Stated: April 6, 2022
Here's a look at some recent Education Week articles you may have missed.
8 min read
Education Briefly Stated: March 30, 2022
Here's a look at some recent Education Week articles you may have missed.
6 min read
Education Briefly Stated: March 16, 2022
Here's a look at some recent Education Week articles you may have missed.
7 min read