The largest-ever USAID award is under protest

By Michael Igoe 05 May 2015

A health surveillance assistant provides service to a woman living with HIV at an antiretroviral therapy clinic supported by the U.S. Agency for International Development in Malawi. The aid agency awarded the leadership of its health supply chain programs to Chemonics International, unseating John Snow, Inc. Photo by: Robbie Flick / Baylor College of Medicine Children’s Foundation / USAID / CC BY-NC-ND

A partnership of government contractors including John Snow, Inc. is protesting the U.S. Agency for International Development’s decision to award its largest-ever contract to a group led by development consulting firm Chemonics International.

The Global Health Supply Chain — Procurement and Supply Management project is an indefinite delivery, indefinite quantity contract, by far the largest in a suite of contracts worth up to $10.5 billion over the next eight years — and USAID’s largest-ever single award, according to an agency representative. The program is meant to support the delivery and distribution of a range of global health commodities used to prevent and to treat illnesses, including HIV and AIDS, malaria, and tuberculosis.

USAID announced its award decision April 17, effectively unseating JSI, one of the agency’s largest implementing partners, from its leadership of USAID’s health supply chain programs.

“We think this was a wrong decision that could cost the taxpayers a great deal of money and perhaps put people's lives at risk,” Joel Lamstein, co-founder and president of JSI, told Devex in an email.

Devex has learned from sources familiar with the award — and JSI has confirmed — that the partnership of incumbents who bid unsuccessfully have submitted a protest to the Government Accountability Office.

Devex spoke with representatives from USAID’s global health bureau about the Global Health Supply Chain program prior to learning the award was under protest.

“We ran a competitive process and our priority was on getting the most value for the taxpayer’s money and choosing the best awardee based on the proposals that were submitted,” Wade Warren, senior deputy assistant administrator in the Bureau for Global Health, told Devex.

The GAO will have 100 days from the date the protest is filed to issue a decision, and that will likely necessitate a freeze on any startup activities under the new contract, according to a source familiar with the award.

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About the author

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Michael Igoe@AlterIgoe

Michael Igoe is a senior correspondent for Devex. Based in Washington, D.C., he covers U.S. foreign aid and emerging trends in international development and humanitarian policy. Michael draws on his experience as both a journalist and international development practitioner in Central Asia to develop stories from an insider's perspective.


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