Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Love Amid The Paperwork

Shades of Darleen Druyun!

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.

-- snip --

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.

-- snip --

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.

-- snip --

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.


Anonymous said...

Great Post TSB: Hey, she gave $2200 to Ron Paul in 2008: She must be a Libertarian! He's got a boat too! Let's find some pictures of that! gwb

Anonymous said...

Some of your assumptions are wrong..I will just point out one..They knew each other prior to the start up the Sterling Royale Group. Who do you think came up with the plan?? The master mind herself...So you suspension of them meeting and falling in love at work could be further from the truth...there is more to this story then you realize...but if you did your homework like the DC did then maybe you would know.

Anonymous said...

TSB: "They thought they had a budget deal in DC today... turned out it was a mirage!" david letterman KEEP COOL! gwb

TSB said...

GWB: She is a Ron Paul voter? Then she doesn't let her personal financial interests corrupt her politics. I knew there was something about her I liked!

TSB said...


Thanks for your comment. I have no idea when Collingsworth met McGrade, or how they first conceived of getting aboard the very profitable small business / 8(a) / woman-owned / HUB zone / Alaskan Native Corporation / minority-this and disadvantaged-that, government preference gravy train. The news articles didn't say. I'm sure we'll find out all about it in time as the OIG and criminal investigations proceed.

Meanwhile, I have no "homework" to do. So far as I'm concerned, the real crime here is the existence of the gov't contracting preference gravy train in the first place. So long as that exists, I'm indifferent as to which particular individuals profit from it. It might as well be McGrade and her daughter as anybody else.

Anonymous said...

TSB: Good reporting here on FOB Mogadishu! The Nation 8/1/11 gwb

The CIA's Secret Sites in Somalia (US Politics, Covert Ops, US Intelligence, World)
Renditions, an underground prison and a new CIA base are elements of an intensifying US war, according to a Nation investigation in Mogadishu.

Jeremy Scahill

Anonymous said...

TSB: It's going to be 87 here tomorrow so lilgwb is going to do a neighborhood fund raiser for inkblot!

Friday Campaign Blogging: Would You Buy a Used Car From This Cat?
— By Kevin Drum| Fri Jul. 22, 2011 12:02 PM PDT

Anonymous said...

TSB: Some insight into the "Meds" question by diplopundit. I think Peter Van Buren is going to sell a lot of books by saying "State" is run like a mafia family. gwb

TSB said...

His book sounds pretty good. I suppose State does have a certain Omertà-ish code of silence, but it's going too far to say it's run like a mafia family.

If it were, the food would be much better and we could have wine at lunch, plus a lot more people would get whacked.

Anonymous said...

I wonder how high up you have to be before the food is really good?... and you actually have time to eat it!

Anonymous said...

TSB: Great tap dancing exhibition at Counternarc ops in Afghanistan-cspan
Wednesday: DiFi to DEA Chief: Do you believe their government is involved in the narcotics trade? Ans: We have no credible evidence! He should just say: "The CIA won't tell us and we would hate to go after one of their key assets!" gwb

TSB said...

The food is good at the senior levels, with the Capos and Consiglieri. But down at my level with the soldiers and buttonmen, we eat pasta fagioli at best.

TSB said...

The DEA guy should replied to Feinstein:

"We have no more evidence of that than we do for the frequent allegations that you are a corrupt public official because your husband got 600 hundred million in military contracts and a super-lucrative payout from the FDIC when it bailed out his failed real estate deals."