It pays to know someone. And in places like Chicago, New York, and Washington, D.C., you almost have to know someone to conduct business or get ahead.
That “someone” is usually a friend of a friend of someone who makes decisions on mundane things like who gets a lucrative no-bid contract from the government. And when you’re talking about tens of millions of dollars of government money up for grabs, “knowing someone” works best when that “someone” actually draws a paycheck from you.
Family Endeavors is a charitable group out of San Antonio, Texas, that last year had total revenue of $43,251,045. In March, they scored a contract that could be worth $530 million, according to Fox News.
The March contract was “by far the largest ever” for the nonprofit and came months after the company hired Andrew Lorenzen-Strait, who served as an adviser to the Biden-Harris transition team. The nonprofit told Axios that its work on the border was a “continuation of services” that it has conducted for the migrant population since 2012.
The contract is intended to provide “emergency intake” and “wrap-around care” at a temporary migrant facility in Texas, the Axios report said.
Andrew Lorenzen-Strait was hired as Family Endeavor’s senior director for migrant services and federal affairs in February. Previously, he ran a consulting firm that — no surprise — taught companies how to win contracts from the federal government. Specifically, the Administration for Children and Families — the agency that is currently handling the massive influx of unaccompanied children at the border — was In his area of expertise.
In March, ICE awarded Family Endeavors an $86 million contract to find hotel rooms near the border for families and provide “temporary shelter and processing services for families who have not been expelled from the United States but have been placed in immigration proceedings for their removal,” according to Fox Business.
According to federal procurement records, ACF has disbursed $255 million to the nonprofit under the new contract, which has a maximum potential value of $530 million.
Family Endeavors’ most recent publicly available annual tax filing, covering calendar year 2018, showed its annual budget for the year was just $43 million.
Before last month, it had never received a prime contract award from HHS, though, according to a source familiar with Family Endeavors’ operations, it did provide staffing services at migrant intake shelters run by another HHS vendor, BCFS, in 2012, 2014, 2016 and 2019.
What’s raising a few eyebrows is that there are far more experienced and well-established companies that didn’t get the contracts.
The agency awarded more than $320 million to Rapid Deployment, a company whose CEO has been nicknamed the “master of disaster” for the extensive relief work his firm has done. It’s also received nine-figure Pentagon contracts for work on military base camps.
The only ACF contract larger than Family Endeavors’ was a $719 million award to Deployed Resources last month, of which about $273 million has been obligated. That company also does extensive work for DHS and the Defense Department.
And along comes little Family Endeavors, which never spent more than $43 million in a year, suddenly asked to handle a $530 million contract. I’m sure everything was on the up-and-up and all the “i’s” were dotted and “t’s” crossed — knowing that someone was going to examine this deal with a fine-tooth comb.
But, yeah…it sure pays to know someone.