NEW YORK (TIP): Indian origin Seema Verma, Chief of Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, violated federal contracting rules by steering millions of taxpayer dollars in contracts that ultimately benefited GOP-aligned communications consultants, according to a report by Inspector General, released July 16.
HHS is one of the largest contracting agencies in the Federal Government and in fiscal year 2019 awarded contracts totaling approximately $27 billion, of which $7 billion related to Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) contracts. Congress has expressed concerns about and the media has reported on CMS’s awarding of contracts for strategic communications services. Separately, OIG had begun preliminary work to review the strategic communications services contracts during CMS Administrator Seema Verma’s tenure. Based on this preliminary work, they conducted an audit of these CMS contracts.
According to the report “CMS prepared the required documentation for awarding contracts for strategic communications services in accordance with the Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR). However, CMS (including the CMS Administrator and other senior leaders) did not administer and manage the contracts in accordance with Federal requirements. Specifically, CMS allowed a subcontractor individual to perform inherently governmental functions, such as making managerial decisions and directing CMS employees. CMS also administered its strategic communications services contracts as personal services contracts. CMS officials exerted a level of control over the contractors’ work that exceeded what is allowed under service contracts; in essence, CMS administered these contracts as if the services had been procured under CMS’s statutory authority to contract for experts and consultants. Lastly, CMS did not comply with FAR requirements in managing contract deliverables and approving the use of a subcontractor, did not maintain complete working files for all three contracts, and paid some questionable costs.”
President Trump nominated Seema Verma to be the Administrator for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) on November 29, 2016, and she was confirmed by the United States Senate on March 13, 2017. As Administrator of CMS, she oversees one of the largest federal agencies that administers vital healthcare programs to over 100 million Americans.