and has not disclosed its bid to competitors.27 Despite the fact that the single entity and the joint venture both signed this certification, our evidence shows that the companies may not have been truly independent, as might be expected given their common employees and business relationships.28 We also found that key personnel at both companies admitted to misrepresenting their job titles and functions in final offers submitted to FEMA, a potential violation of the False Statements Act, 18 U.S.C. §1001. Details of the case follow:
Both proposals contained identical language. We found that both companies hired the same individual to prepare their proposals. This individual admitted that he “cut and pasted” language between the two submissions and also that he provided the single entity a copy of the joint venture’s bids prior to the submissions to FEMA. In addition, the joint venture’s chief operating officer admitted that he discussed the joint venture’s bids with the president of the single entity prior to submission.
The single entity and the joint venture submitted line items bids that were frequently identical or within a few hundred dollars.
In their initial proposals, the single entity and the joint venture provided organizational charts with nearly identical personnel. For example, both companies had the same president, executive vice president, and accountant. After FEMA received the initial proposals, the contracting officer told both companies that he was concerned with the overlapping personnel and the similar pricing in the submissions. In their best and final offers, the companies submitted new organizational charts on which the president and executive vice president roles were now filled by different people. However, the president of the single entity admitted that she was president of both companies, despite being removed from the joint venture’s initial organizational chart. In addition, the individual listed as “operations manager” for the single entity admitted that he does not really act in that capacity and then
27Specifically, the certificate requires each bidder to affirm that “it has arrived at its price independently, has not disclosed its price to other competitors before bid opening, and has not attempted to induce another concern either to submit or not submit a bid for the purpose of restricting competition.”
28 The determination regarding whether the businesses submitted their offers for purposes of restricting competition is a matter within the purview of the Department of Justice, Antitrust Division.
GAO-08-106 Hurricane Katrina