Homeland Security Watch

News and analysis of critical issues in homeland security

June 15, 2006

House holds hearing on DHS shuttle contract

Filed under: DHS News — by Christian Beckner on June 15, 2006

The House Homeland Security Committee held a hearing today on DHS’s shuttle service contract with Shirlington Limousine Co., a deal that has raised suspicions based upon the contractor’s ties to the so-called “Hookergate” scandal (involving convicted ex-Congressman Duke Cunningham), and that I thought was overpriced based upon an analysis of the terms of the proposal. The prepared testimony from the hearing is available here, and summary coverage of the hearing is available in an AP story and two posts at TPM Muckraker.

From the AP story:

A limousine company involved in congressional prostitution and bribery allegations got a Homeland Security contract after then-Rep. Randy “Duke” Cunningham interceded on the company’s behalf, the company’s president has told lawmakers.

The statement by the president of Shirlington Limousine was made in an affidavit discussed at a House Homeland Security subcommittee hearing Thursday.

It prompted renewed protests from lawmakers about the Homeland Security Department’s awarding of two contracts to Shirlington despite the company’s history of problems.

And from TPM Muckraker:

As revealed in today’s hearing, Shirlington President Christopher Baker told committee staff that he’d originally submitted a proposal to DHS in January of 2004 to provide shuttle services.

Here’s why that’s fishy – that was 3 months before DHS even announced that they’d be seeking bids for such a contract.

But it gets better. In March of 2004, Baker applied for HUBZone status for Shirlington – that’s a federal program whereby certain contracts are set aside for small businesses in “distressed areas.”

On April 8, Shirlington was awarded HUBZone status.

And guess what — one week later DHS posted the bid solicitation for their transportation contract. The contract was designated as a HUBZone project.

Two weeks later Shirlington won the contract.

There’s clearly something very wrong about this contract, and the hearing today strengthens my previous contention (which was conditional, since it was based on incomplete information) that the taxpayers are getting a raw deal on it. If there is evidence of a Cunningham tie to the contract, then DHS should terminate it immediately and hold a new, open competition – not using a set-aside program – for its shuttle services.

Update (6/18): Here’s the letter from Cunningham to DHS, recommending Shirlington Limo.

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