FDA suspends work with pair of agencies

WASHINGTON: The FDA temporarily halted work September 29 on a $300,000 contract with an Alaska-based PR firm that had subcontracted with Qorvis Communications. The government agency is awaiting the findings of internal and independent reviews.

WASHINGTON: The FDA temporarily halted work September 29 on a $300,000 contract with an Alaska-based PR firm that had subcontracted with Qorvis Communications. The government agency is awaiting the findings of internal and independent reviews.

The FDA on July 23 awarded Alaska Newspapers Inc. (ANI), an Anchorage-based newspaper group with a communications division, a 10-month contract, said FDA spokesperson Heidi Rebello.

ANI regularly subcontracts with Qorvis, with which it has had a joint marketing agreement since 2006. Don Goldberg, a partner at Qorvis, told PRWeek that the FDA originally approached his firm in 2007 to help it better communicate with consumers and hold media training for agency executives. The firm began working on the project in August 2008.

However, an investigative October 2 piece by The Washington Post revealed that there was not a competitive pitch because of contract competition requirements for government agencies.

ANI is an 8(a) business, meaning it is “owned and controlled by one or more socially and economically disadvantaged individuals,” according to the Small Business Administration. For this reason, the FDA says it can negotiate with ANI directly.

Rebello said the FDA's internal investigation began on September 18 and an independent investigation was requested four days later.

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