Four Democratic leaders have formally asked for a probe into whether funds from Porter Novelli's $2.25M contract with the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services flowed to Republican communications consultants to burnish the brand of CMS administrator Seema Verma.
Politico reported March 29 that GOP firms wrote speeches and traveled with Verma to boost her image.
House Oversight & Reform Committee chair Elijah Cummings, House Energy & Commerce chair Frank Pallone, Senate Finance ranking member Ron Wyden and Senate Health, Education, Labor & Pensions ranking member Patty Murray want CMS inspector general Daniel Levinson to follow-up the Politico allegations that millions in dollars in questionable contracts went to Nahigian Strategies, Pam Stevens and Marcus Barlow.
They want to know:
- To what extent were all applicable ederal aacquisition regulation provisions, CMS policies and procedures, and federal ethics requirements appropriately followed for the awarding of these contracts and subcontracts to Porter Novelli, Nahigian Strategies, Stevens, and Barlow?
- What were the justification for these contracts and subcontracts, including how and why these consultants were selected, and what was Verma’s role in selecting these consultants for the contracts and their awarding?
- What were the total costs of these contracts and subcontracts, including the amount awarded and obligated?
- To what extent could the work under these contracts be performed by CMS’s own Office of Communications or policy staff?
- Did any CMS personnel raise concerns about the awarding of these contracts? If so, what were these concerns, and how were they addressed?
- To what extent has CMS ensured that the awarding of contracts adheres to high ethical standards and is free of undue influence from political appointees?
The Democrats also sent s letter to Veema, requesting:
- A list of all contracts and subcontracts with Porter Novelli, Nahigian Strategies, Pam Stevens, and Marcus Barlow since January 20, 2017. For each contract or subcontract, please provide a description of the work performed, whether the contract was competitively bid, an explanation as to how and why these companies or consultants were selected, what your role was in the awarding of the contract or subcontract, the amount awarded and obligated, and copies of each contract or subcontract.
Responses are due April 12.