A woman working in federal government contracting has, it is alleged, steered contracts worth tens of millions to her family members. This time, it was a woman working for the Department of State.
State Dept drops analyst, probes contract awards:
The State Department has dismissed an analyst who may have helped award millions in contracts to a company run by her husband and daughter, an official said Wednesday. An internal investigation into possible wrongdoing was under way.
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The story was first reported by the news website The Daily Caller. It reported that McGrade, working for the company ATSG of Arlington, Va., participated in awarding more than $52 million in contracts to the Washington-based company Sterling Royale Group. The website said Sterling Royale is run by McGrade's husband, Brian Collinsworth, and daughter, J.L. Herring.
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The Daily Caller reported that McGrade helped Sterling Royale win 43 taxpayer-funded contracts in recent years, but that she and her husband kept their relationship secret from the State Department and others. It said Collinsworth acts as Sterling Royale's vice president, while Herring is its president and CEO.
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Sterling Royale's contracts dealt with design and construction projects that began in May 2009 and carried through June 15, The Daily Caller said.
I don't know what those 2009 projects entailed, however, it seems Sterling Royale Group already had a business relationship with the State Department by then, because in 2008 it had received $12,723,808 for other contracts involving overseas facilities work.
That makes me suspect Collingsworth first met McGrade in the course of doing business with the Office of Overseas Buildings Operations (OBO). Did love bloom across the conference table? I can see it happening. Meaningful glances amid the binders of contract mods and vouchers ... a furtive kiss in the elevator when she escorted him up from the lobby of State Annex 6 ... strolling hand-in-hand to the Starbucks on North Oak Street for a romantic coffee break. It's the same old story (cue the music).
Love aside, the Daily Caller's exposé provides a fine example of why you should never go into business with family, and especially not with would-be family:
Since the State Department has refused to confirm or deny McGrade’s identity, The DC presented photographs of Collinsworth and McGrade to Herring’s ex-fiancee [sic], Keith Smithey.
Smithey confirmed that Collinsworth is married to McGrade, and that Herring is McGrade’s daughter. Smithey was at the wedding. “I was one of their groomsmen,” he told TheDC.
Smithey added that McGrade and Collinsworth covered their tracks and kept their marriage concealed from the State Department and others. “It was a big secret,” Smithey said. “In fact, they even told me it was a secret and not to tell anyone that they know that they are married, because of the whole conflict of interest and all that.”
The old tracking-down-the-ex-fiancé trick. Nice job, Daily Caller!
One not so nice thing, however, is that the Daily Caller keeps repeating the canard that McGrade was a "Contract Officer" rather than what she actually was, which was a Management Analyst. Since they dredged up an old OBO organization chart from 2004 in a follow-up story this afternoon, the Daily Caller thinks it has refuted State Department spokesman Andy Laine's correct description of McGrade's current - or rather, current until today - job title. I suppose a headline saying "Corrupt Analyst in the Office of Logistics Management" (which is what, exactly?) doesn't sound suitably dramatic.
What I make out of all this is that McGrade previously worked as a contract specialist in OBO's design and construction division, and that she subsequently moved to a higher-level job in a different but closely related office. How much sway she had over the contract award process from either of those jobs, I can't say. Possibly not so much as you might think.
For all I know, Sterling Royale Group was perfectly qualified to get all those contracts and did an exemplary job with them. One thing is certain - somebody would have gotten them, since they were awarded to a woman-owned small business located in a historically underutilized business zone (the latter qualification can be met simply by having an office pretty much anywhere in Washington DC), and all federal agencies set aside a certain amount of their contracts for such companies.
If it wasn't McGrade's daughter getting that preference, it would have been someone else equally well-positioned to take advantage of our government's commitment to provide social justice to the most marginalized and underprivileged of America's recreational boaters. It's nice work if you can get it.