WASHINGTON, Jan. 12, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- As part of SEIU's ongoing efforts to ensure federal contractors respect both their employees and American taxypayers, a detailed look inside Sodexo's $1.2 billion food service contract with the Marine Corps is now available at: http://www.seiu.org/2011/01/public-documents-provide-a-look-inside-sodexos-tro.php.
Federal and state public records, obtained by Freedom of Information Act requests, document cost overruns, food safety problems and audit issues raising serious questions about Sodexo's handling of this largest-ever domestic military dining contract:
Cost Overruns. The $881 million contract awarded in 2002, to provide food and other services at Marine installations across the United States was intended to achieve 20% cost savings. But, the actual contract costs on these fixed-price contracts ballooned by 36%, which is more than the average cost overruns on cost-plus contracts for major weapons systems.
Food Safety Issues. Sodexo's approach pivoted on a centralized food processing facility, known as a "cook-chill" plant, which proved to be problematic. Sodexo abandoned the cook-chill before its contract ended. Before Sodexo stopped shipping food for Marines from the cook-chill, USDA recalled nearly 3,000 pounds of chicken for possible contamination with the potentially deadly Listeria bacteria, some of which was received by Marine Corps bases.
Heavily Redacted Audit Reports. The Defense Contract Audit Agency generated over 80 audit reports for Sodexo's contracts, but the Marine Corps redacted virtually all useful information—including very basic information such as how much they paid to Sodexo each quarter to perform the contract.
An investigation into cost escalation and other issues is the responsible action to take, so that lessons may be learned and applied to the next contract before it is awarded. Such a review would make a fitting laboratory for improving Department of Defense acquisition practices and provide guidance for future food service contracts, such as the Air Force Food Transformation Initiative.
BACKGROUND: In 2002, the Marines Corps consolidated all food service operations in the United States into two contracts, the Regional Garrison Food Service Contracts, East Coast and West Coast. The Marine Corps awarded both contracts, then the largest ever for military food service, to global outsourcing giant Sodexo. The contract was set to expire September 30, 2010, but was extended by the Marine Corps until January 31, 2011. The Marine Corps has yet to award the new contracts.
SOURCE Service Employees International Union