The Department of Health and Human Services is not just failing its agency and contractor customers but also, once again, demonstrating why “the government” gets maligned as wasteful, insular and uncaring.
With its decision to end its assisted acquisition services through its Program Support Center, HHS is putting more than $1 billion in contracts at risk. It’s hanging large and small agencies out to dry — ranging from the Defense Department to the Environmental Protection Agency to the Office of Special Counsel — by canceling contracts and giving them little time to prepare for the changes. And it is withholding payment to potentially hundreds of small and large contractors, putting some at risk of closing down or facing employee layoffs and additional contract costs.
At the same time, HHS is paying tens of thousands of dollars in prompt payment penalties to those same contractors for avoidable mistakes, inching ever closer to what experts would call waste and abuse.
“Since the beginning, HHS PSC was inflicting pain on themselves,” said Ron Robinson, a former program manager for Copper River Technologies, which provided contract support and financial analyst services until December when PSC ended its three-year contract two years early. “It is horrible the way HHS has handled this. They should be held accountable, and it doesn’t seem like anyone wants to. There wasn’t communication. There was a lack of transparency. You see that time and again with them suspending warrants and putting four people on administrative leave without telling them why.”