Senators to FEMA: Contractor plagiarized winning bid to aid Puerto Rico

Senators to FEMA: Contractor plagiarized winning bid to aid Puerto Rico
© Greg Nash

The company who lost its contract with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) after it failed to meet its obligations to deliver meals to hurricane-stricken Puerto Rico plagiarized the proposal that won it the bid in the first place, three Senate Democrats said this week.

The senators said the alleged plagiarism is evidence of "systematic weakness" within FEMA. The agency has already come under fire for its hurricane response management last year.

In a letter to FEMA dated Thursday, Sens. Claire McCaskillClaire Conner McCaskillTrump nominees meet fiercest opposition from Warren, Sanders, Gillibrand Feds allow campaigns to accept discounted cybersecurity services GOP frets over nightmare scenario for Senate primaries MORE (D-Mo.), Heidi HeitkampMary (Heidi) Kathryn HeitkampTrump nominees meet fiercest opposition from Warren, Sanders, Gillibrand McConnell's Democratic challenger McGrath backtracks on Kavanaugh comments McConnell's Democratic challenger says she likely would have voted for Kavanaugh MORE (D-N.D.) and Gary PetersGary Charles PetersSenators introduce legislation to boost cyber defense training in high school Alarm sounds over census cybersecurity concerns Trump's pick to lead Pentagon glides through confirmation hearing MORE (D-Mich.) accused Tribute Contracting LLC of "extensive plagiarism."

The letter provides multiple examples, citing proposals from two other companies.

"The proposal submitted by Tribute in response to FEMA’s contract solicitation contains numerous contradictory or unintelligible assertions," the letter reads.

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"Committee staff investigators identified one explanation for these inconsistencies—the overwhelming majority of Tribute’s 9-page proposal appears to be plagiarized from several sources readily available on the internet."

Tribute scored the $156 million contract to provide 30 million hot meals to victims of Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico after the storm. The company lost the contract just 20 days later, however, because it delivered only 50,000 meals.

According to the letter sent by the senators, Tribute plagiarized passages from two other companies — Affordable Courier Solutions Inc., a Florida-based medical transportation company, and LINQ Transport & Logistics, a global logistics company.

"Unfortunately, this contract seems to be further evidence of systematic weakness in FEMA's contracting process," the letter reads.