There is a story that has been making the rounds about Mitchell Wade’s first contract with the White House. Wade, you’ll remember, is one of the guys involved in the massive Abramoff / Cunningham / CIA money-laundering network. Wade pled guilty in 2006 to a number of counts of bribing Duke Cunningham and various other folks in Congress and the Executive branch.
Wade’s first contract with the Office of the Vice President was for $140,000 of office equipment and computer programming services. Someone happened to notice that $140,000 happened to be one of the dollar figures in Wade’s guilty plea last year. Wade bought a boat from someone for $140,000 and gave the boat to Cunningham.
Apparently people are getting all worked up about this match– and while $140k is a nice round number, I don’t think it’s necessarily cause-and-effect. If they were planning the graft to pay for the boat, you would think Wade would build a profit margin into the deal instead of making it a 100% pass-through (say, charge the VP’s office $150k to buy the $140k boat, and pocket the $10k difference). I think it’s more significant that this $140,000 contract is the one that allowed Wade and his company MZM to get their foot in the door.
Based on the work I’ve done with large payers who allow their procurement organizations to use blanket purchase orders, that first contract is the hardest one to get. But if you don’t screw it up, it might just open the floodgates. More on this later.