No-Bid Contracts Mean Big Bucks for Migrant Services Provider
The federal government awarded a $530 million migrant services contract to Endeavors, a Texas nonprofit that recently hired a Biden transition team official. Coincidence?
The no-bid contract — the second largest ever issued by the Administration for Children and Families (ACF) and 12 times bigger than Endeavors’ annual budget – comes on the heels of the nonprofit’s $87 million no-bid arrangement with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to broker hotel rooms for migrant families.
The San Antonio-based organization landed the two lucrative contracts less than two months after it hired Andrew Lorenzen-Strait as senior director for migrant services and federal affairs. He was previously an adviser to the Biden-Harris transition team on Department of Homeland Security (DHS) policy.
ThoughEndeavors had no history as an ICE contractor and never held a prime contract with ACF’s parent agency, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS),Lorenzen-Strait brought D.C. connections to San Antonio. Before his stint on the Biden transition, he ran a consulting firm that advised companies on federal procurement practices, with expertise at ACF.
From2008-2019, Lorenzen-Strait worked at ICE, where he led “humanitarian programming in LGBTQ care” and other custody-related assignments. During the presidential transition, he also vetted HHS appointees.
Endeavors characterized its new projects as “a continuation of services we have delivered to the migrant population since 2012.” The organization hasn’t said how much it expects to earn on either contract, but the combined value of$617 million far exceeds its annual budget, last listed at $43 million in 2018.
In March, ACF paid Endeavors a first installment of $255 million for “emergency intake” and “wrap-around care” services at a migrant facility in Pecos, Texas. Yet-to-be-specified additional assignments will follow.
Endeavors’ $87 million ICE contract pays the nonprofit to arrange lodging for migrant families at hotels in Texas and Arizona. As reported by the Washington Examiner, the contract calls for 1,200 hotel beds intended for “short term [use], and generally less than 72 hours.”
After details of the hotel contract surfaced, ICE cited “unusual and compelling urgency” as reasons for not complying with federal competitive bidding rules. Not everyone is buying that, and some see at least appearances of a conflict of interest.
“I find it hard to believe there were no other vendors that could have been at least considered,” Rep. Andrew Clyde, R-Ga., told the Examiner.