Congress Launch Investigation on $156M Meal Contract to Puerto Rico & USVI
ATLANTA — Congressional leaders have launched an investigation after an Atlanta contractor was granted a 156 multi-million dollar contract to make 30 million meals for storm-ravaged Puerto Rico and USVI. Contractor Tiffany Brown only delivered 50,000 meals.
On her website, she calls herself a self-proclaimed DIVA, a mogul, and a clothing designer. But the only thing she’s missing is “Blasted Fool” many islanders would say about her. It also boasts that she’s “No stranger to putting forth a strong effort to create a success.” But a recent contract awarded to the local woman by the Federal Emergency Management indicates anything but.
11Alive Atlanta learned FEMA granted Brown’s company Tribute Consulting LLC a nearly $156 million contract on Oct. 3, 2017, to deliver 30 million meals to people desperate for food in wind-whipped Puerto Rico and USVI. Tribute Consulting LLC has an address listed at 1100 Peachtree Street NW. She found the company rents an office from another company that rents a floor in the building.
Brown’s subcontractors Cooking With A Star LLC, doesn’t have an actual address, only a P.O. box for a UPS store in East Point, Georgia. A second company called Breedlove Foods Inc. was also part of the contract, but both allegedly stopped producing meals when they did not receive payment on time.
FEMA ultimately terminated the Atlanta company’s contract in 20 days later on Oct. 23, before the entire $156 million budget was spent, citing “The contract is being terminated due to late delivery of the approved heater meals.”
“The total meals schedule in accordance with the contract at termination is 18.5 Million short of the scheduled delivery,” it concludes.
FEMA said they thoroughly researched Brown’s company before giving her the contract, but 11Alive found out that it’s not her first canceled contract with the government. She was also flagged by one government agency as “ineligible” for contracts.
So, why did FEMA go ahead and award her the contract anyway? The agency shared that Brown was only flagged within that specific government agency that listed her as ineligible, so legally, they couldn’t deny her a contract because of that.
But in a scathing eight-page letter from Reps. Elijah Cummings and Stacey Plaskett to Federal oversight committee chairman Trey Gowdy, the representatives blast the agency, writing
“It is difficult to fathom how FEMA could have believed that this tiny company had the capacity to perform this $156 million contract.”
Brown apparently told representatives directly in a phone call that FEMA awarded her the contract because “I was able to submit a proposal to supply 30 million meals at the cheapest cost.” Brown told staffers she stated she would work 24/7 to provide the meals and explained that FEMA “knew she could not independently finance the production and delivery of this many meals in such a short timeframe.”
After Brown notified FEMA in the Oct. 19 email that 36,000 meals were en route—with the meals packaged separately from the heating component—a FEMA official told her that was not acceptable and told her not to deliver the meals.
“This is a logistical nightmare,” the official wrote in an email to Brown informing her the contract would be terminated. Brown said Friday that FEMA knew she never intended to package the meals and heating components together.
She’s filed a complaint with the Department of Homeland Security inspector general alleging that the real reason FEMA cancelled is the dispute over whether the meals were “self-heating meals” as called for in the FEMA contract and not the delay.