WASHINGTON D.C.—Economic and Consumer Policy Subcommittee Ranking Member Michael Cloud (R-Texas), House Committee on Oversight and Reform Ranking Member James Comer (R-Ky.), and Oversight Committee Republican lawmakers today pressed U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Acting Director Tae Johnson about a no-bid contract to house migrant families that resulted in the waste of millions of taxpayer dollars.
Recently, the Department of Homeland Security Inspector General released a report revealing ICE officials bypassed the ordinary competitive process to award an $87 million contract to Endeavors and then wasted at least $17 million of taxpayer money because hotel rooms intended for migrant families sat empty and were mostly unused.
“We write to express alarm at the potential waste of millions in taxpayer money and abuse of the contracting process by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officials. According to a recent Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Inspector General (OIG) report, ICE officials bypassed the ordinary competitive process to award a large, sole source $87 million contract and then wasted at least $17 million of taxpayer money because hotel rooms intended for migrant families sat empty and were mostly unused. Not only have the Biden Administration’s policies exacerbated the crisis on our border, it now appears the Administration is exploiting the crisis to reward its political allies with sole source contracts. The Biden Administration’s self-inflicted crisis has cost taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars across multiple federal departments. American taxpayers deserve accountability,” wrote the Republican lawmakers.
The OIG’s investigation found that Endeavors sent an unsolicited proposal to ICE to house migrant families despite having no prior experience in providing these services. ICE officials then awarded a sole source contract to Endeavors without obtaining any documentation that the nonprofit had the capacity to provide the required services. The OIG concluded ICE officials’ mismanagement in awarding this $87 million contract resulted in a waste of at least $17 million. Endeavors won this contract and even larger contracts with the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) through a no-bid process after hiring Andrew Lorenzen-Strait as Senior Director for Migrant Services and Federal Affairs, a political ally of the Biden Administration. Mr. Lorenzen-Strait served on the Biden-Harris transition team and is a former official at ICE. A report has surfaced that he is interviewing to return to ICE as its Chief of Staff.
“Wasting $17 million in unused hotel rooms paid for by the taxpayers is unacceptable. Unfortunately, these problems are not surprising given the potential conflicts of interest inherent in this particular contract,” continued the Republican lawmakers. “The revolving door appears to be quite lucrative for those who benefit from the Administration’s mismanagement of the border.”
“The Biden administration has caused the biggest border crisis in our nation’s history,” Congressman Cloud said. “Instead of taking the proper steps to mitigate the issue, they’re wasting millions of taxpayer dollars by gifting no-bid contracts to their unqualified political allies—allowing them to profit off the mismanagement at our border. This is a corrupt practice and the Biden administration must be held accountable.”
In their letter to Acting Director Johnson, the Republican lawmakers call for all documents and information related to the contract awarded to Endeavors. The letter can be found here.