Peace Corps officials directed Department of State funds to a nonprofit run by Secretary of State John Kerry’s daughter by disqualifying other potential applicants through half-hearted analysis.
“We’ll never know, but this market research seems like an effort to steer this deal to Kerry’s group, which might not have been in the government’s best interest,” Project On Government Oversight (POGO) General Counsel Scott Amey told The Daily Caller News Foundation. POGO is a nonprofit watchdog that has extensively investigated government contracts among other oversight issues.
The State Department funneled more than $9 million through the Peace Corps to Seed Global Health – a nonprofit run by Kerry’s daughter, Dr. Vanessa Kerry, TheDCNF previously revealed. Seed received the money through Peace Corps contracts for the Global Health Service Partnership (GHSP), which were awarded without competition.
“The sole source deal looks a bit fishy,” Amey told TheDCNF.
The Peace Corps justified the decision to forgo competition by conducting market research where officials analyzed other organizations and explained why they were unqualified for the work. Meanwhile, Kerry formed Seed specifically to conform with GHSP, which she also created in conjunction with Department of State and Peace Corps officials.
TheDCNF obtained a copy of the market research, which shows Peace Corps officials only researched four groups that would likely bid for the GHSP contracts. Yet numerous other potential bidders exist.
Specifically, the agency analyzed Health Volunteers Overseas, American International Health Alliance – Volunteer Health Corps, Doctors Without Borders, and Human Resources for Health Program Rwanda. Similar groups that weren’t researched include: John’s Hopkins affiliate Jhpiego, John Snow Inc. and the Baylor Global Health Program, among others.
“Sometimes it’s better to put an opportunity out for bid and see what comes back,” Amey told TheDCNF. “Competition is good for the government and good for taxpayers.”
But the Peace Corps didn’t give the opportunities for disqualified or ignored organizations to bid on the GHSP contract. Those groups, many of which have decades of experience, didn’t have the chance to compete against Seed – a brand new nonprofit.
The market research document shows the Peace Corps essentially disqualified the analyzed groups because their current programs didn’t perfectly align with GHSP. Kerry’s nonprofit, however, didn’t have any programs prior to securing the Peace Corps contract.
For example, the disqualified groups did not have “health care professionals on staff,” didn’t privately fundraise to provide debt repayment stipends, or did “all of the work themselves, not in a partnership,” the market research document shows.
The Peace Corps also claimed the groups didn’t have experience prioritizing a partner’s mission before their own, which GHSP required. Seed, however, avoided this criticism by stating in its founding documents that its first main function was to serve GHSP.
The market research was only part of the Peace Corp’s justification to forgo competition of a four-year extension awarded to Seed in September 2015. Another major reason was because Kerry’s nonprofit was so burrowed into the program it would be too difficult and expensive to replace it, TheDCNF previously reported.
Seed was given the extension, which included a $6.4 million bonus, even though they failed to meet the original contract’s requirements, TheDCNF has revealed. The extension gave Seed a total of seven years of work, even though Peace Corps policy limits contracts to just five years.
John Kerry announced the State Department-funded expansion of GHSP in 2014 and even bragged about the Peace Corps’ partnership with his daughter’s nonprofit. Seed was formed in Kerry’s home, and the State Department has repeatedly said he “played no role” awarding the funds.