As the Trump Administration Continues to Botch its Coronavirus Response, Here Are 6 Questions That Need to be Addressed in Light of Recent Reports About Kushner’s Failed Efforts
WASHINGTON, D.C. – According to reports in The Washington Post, The New York Times, and other outlets, “About two dozen employees from Boston Consulting Group, Insight, McKinsey and other firms have volunteered their time — some on paid vacation leave from their jobs and others without pay — to aid the Trump administration’s response to the coronavirus pandemic, according to administration officials and others familiar with the arrangement.”
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Kushner put these volunteers in positions of power, even though they reportedly lacked experience or expertise in crisis management, government procurement, or healthcare. The Kushner effort further undermined the government’s already lackluster response to combat COVID-19.
Questions About Kushner's Failed Efforts
Still, there are many unanswered questions about Kushner’s ‘volunteers.’ Here are a few:
1. The volunteers’ employers have been awarded at least 20 million in government contracts for work related to COVID-19. This begs this question if these “volunteers” were truly volunteers? And by calling them “volunteers” what requirements were they not subject to that they would be if they were labeled as contractors?
McKinsey Has Received $11.7 Million In Federal Contracts Since March 20th For COVID-19 Response Activities
APRIL 10, 2020: McKinsey Was Given A $1,704,000 Contract By HHS For “COVID-19 Central Coordination Support Services.” [USASpending.gov]
APRIL 28, 2020: McKinsey Was Given A $4,985,983 Contract By HHS To Help “Implement, Manage, And Monitor” The Provider Relief Funds From The Cares Act. [USASpending.gov]
MARCH 20, 2020: McKinsey Was Given A $4,975,000 From Department Of Veterans Affairs For “COVID-19 Consulting And Modeling.” [USASpending.gov]
Boston Consulting Group Has Received $8 Million In Federal Contracts Since March 24th For COVID-19 Response Activities
APRIL 1, 2020: Boston Consulting Group Received A $1,111,949 From HHS For Assisting “With The Required Analytic Support To Inform Decision Making About Where And How To Provide Assistance.” [USASpending.gov]
APRIL 1, 2020: Boston Consulting Group Received A $1,573,922 From HHS To “Accelerate And Scale Their Ability To Effectively Deliver Complex Cross-Agency And Cross-Government Programs, Most Immediately, The Response To COVID-19. [USASpending.gov]
MARCH 25, 2020: Boston Consulting Group Received A $502,916 From HHS For “Activist Program Management And Analytic Support Initial Call—4 Weeks.” [USASpending.gov]
MARCH 24, 2020: Boston Consulting Group Received A $4,852,876.00 From HHS For “Mission Essential Function Risk Based Scenario Planning Exercise.” [USASpending.gov]
2. Why was Big Pharma lobbyist John Clerici given special access to senior HHS officials and permitted to influence federal COVID-19 response decisions?
Former BARDA Director Alleged In Whistleblower Complaint That Kadlec Repeatedly Pressured Him For Years To Fund Scientifically Dubious Projects Connected To Personal Friends. “The explosive 89-page complaint also contains a number of highly detailed accusations of nepotism surrounding Dr. Bob Kadlec, the assistant secretary for preparedness and response at HHS. The complaint alleges Kadlec repeatedly pressured Bright over the course of a number of years to fund scientifically dubious projects connected to personal friends.” [STAT News, 5/5/20]
Former BARDA Director Alleged Biotech Companies Aeolus, Alvogen, Partner Therapeutics And Ridgeback Therapeutics Were Given Special Access To Kadlec Via Tiber Creek Industry Consultant. “The complaint alleges that a small circle of biotech companies, including Aeolus Pharmaceuticals, Alvogen, Partner Therapeutics, and Ridgeback Therapeutics got special access to Kadlec through an industry consultant at Tiber Creek Partners. The complaint also alleges that Bright was made aware that Aeolus, in particular, has connections to Jared Kushner, the president’s son-in-law.” [STAT News, 5/5/20]
3. How did the administration ensure the ‘volunteers’ complied with proper protocols and laws?
According to a Whistleblower complaint, ‘volunteers’ used personal email for their official work. “According to the whistle-blower, they were given little initial instruction. They used personal Gmail accounts, prompting suspicion from some prospective suppliers and brokers who questioned their bona fides. A few days after they began, a government lawyer belatedly showed up with nondisclosure forms from the Department of Homeland Security.” [New York Times, 5/5/20]
4. Who were these volunteers, their employers and clients? What steps were taken to avoid conflicts of interest?
To date, there have been no public disclosures of who Kushner and the White House brought on to assist with this project. Moreover, there is no indication that any steps were taken to avoid conflicts of interest with these volunteers, their financial holdings, employers or clients.
5. Were McKinsey And Boston Consulting Group contracts purposefully structured so they wouldn't be subject to federal rule requiring them to report credible evidence of criminal or civil violations to the Office of the Inspector General?
Federal contracts over $5 million are subject to a rule that requires contractors to be diligent in the prevention and detection of criminal conduct and to disclose credible evidence of any criminal or civil violations to the Office of the Inspector General.
- FAR 52.203-13 Is A Rule Established In 2008 Affecting Compliance And Internal Controls For Government Contractors That Applies To Contracts Exceeding $5 Million And 120 Days. “ [DCAA Consulting]
- DCAA Consulting: FAR 52.203-13 Requires That Contractors “Be Diligent In The Prevention And Detection Of Criminal Conduct” And Requires Them “To Disclose In Writing To The Office Of The Inspector General Incidents Where There Is Credible Evidence That A Violation has Occurred Of Criminal Law Or The Civil False Claims Act.” [DCAA Consulting]
McKinsey and BCG’s largest federal contracts on COVID-19 all happen to fall just slightly under the threshold for them to be subject to the criminal and civil violation reporting rule.
- APRIL 28, 2020: McKinsey Was Given A $4,985,983 Contract By HHS To Help “Implement, Manage, And Monitor” The Provider Relief Funds From The Cares Act. [gov]
- MARCH 20, 2020: McKinsey Was Given A $4,975,000 From Department Of Veterans Affairs For “COVID-19 Consulting And Modeling.” [gov]
- MARCH 24, 2020: Boston Consulting Group Received A $4,852,876.00 From HHS For “Mission Essential Function Risk Based Scenario Planning Exercise.” [gov]
6. Who was considered a VIP? How were these VIPs identified?
Volunteers were told to prioritize and fast-track protective equipment leads from political allies and those close to President Trump. “Many of the volunteers were told to prioritize tips from political allies and associates of President Trump, tracked on a spreadsheet called “V.I.P. Update,” according to documents and emails obtained by The New York Times. Among them were leads from Republican members of Congress, the Trump youth activist Charlie Kirk and a former “Apprentice” contestant who serves as the campaign chair of Women for Trump.” [New York Times, 5/5/20]
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