printer iconPrinter-friendly Version

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: March 4, 2010

SCHUMER, GILLIBRAND QUESTION STATE DEPT DECISION TO PURCHASE GLASSWARE FOR US EMBASSIES FROM FOREIGN COMPANY THROUGH A NO-BID CONTRACT, BYPASSING NEW YORK'S STEUBEN GLASSWARE


State Dept Awarded No-Bid Contract to Company That Outsourced Work Without Inviting American Companies Like Steuben Glass To Bid

New York's Steuben Glass Would Greatly Benefit from Chance to Compete for the Contract - Company Has Had Relationship With Every Administration Since Truman

Schumer, Gillibrand Press For Answers On Steuben Glass's Behalf

Today, U.S. Senators Charles E. Schumer and Kristen Gillibrand announced that they have written a personal letter to the State Department questioning its decision to award a no-bid contract for glassware for U.S. embassies worldwide to a company that immediately outsourced all the glassware manufacturing work to a foreign manufacturer.  The Senators said that American manufacturers of the formal stemware were not even invited to bid for the contract - leaving companies like New York’s Steuben Glass out in the cold.  Schumer and Gillibrand requested that the State Department immediately explain their decision.

 

“Right here in Steuben County we’ve got a world-renowned glass manufacturer that employs hundreds of people, and they at the very least deserve a chance to compete for this work,” Schumer said. “At a time when so many of our friends and neighbors are out of work, we should be making every effort to ensure that our government procures and showcases American-made products, not foreign-made goods.”  

 

“If we’re going to rebuild our economy and create jobs in the Southern Tier, we need to make sure businesses here are getting a fair chance at federal contracts,” Senator Gillibrand said. “We can’t afford to outsource a single contract and a single job. Supplying glassware to more than 400 embassies and residences would open new markets worldwide and American companies like Steuben Glass deserve to have that opportunity.”   

 

Schumer and Gillibrand said the contract was awarded without any competition, without any public notification, and without any formal bid process. As a result of this non-public process, the stemware contract was awarded to a small design firm – a firm that itself appears not to manufacture anything.  A company press release indicates that the design firm has subcontracted the contract for the manufacture of the stemware to a company that will produce the stemware in Sweden. Supplying glassware for over 400 American embassies and embassy residences would be a huge boost for a New York based company like Steuben Glass and the entire community in Steuben County. Having Steuben’s glassware used worldwide will only increase the reputation of its business and has the potential to bring the company’s goods to new markets.

 

Schumer and Gillibrand said that awarding a manufacturing contract to a firm that obviously could only fulfill the contract by outsourcing all the manufacturing work was wrong headed and the process by which the contract was given out, as well as how the contract is consistent with federal procurement rules on subcontracting, needs to be explained

 

New York’s Steuben Glass, which has a long and rich history as a renowned art glass manufacturer, should have had an opportunity to bid on this high-profile contract.  Steuben Glass has had a relationship with every Presidential Administration going back to Truman Administration.  It is known the world over as a prominent leader in the field of high end art glass design and has been producing glassware in Corning, New York, for over 100 years.  Steuben Glass also is a major contributor to the workforce in the Steuben County region, as well as a huge source of pride for its workers and those who call the region home. 

 

The full text of the letter is below.

 

###

 

 

                                                                                                                                     March 4, 2010

The Honorable Hillary Rodham Clinton

Secretary of State

U.S. Department of State

2201 C Street NW
Washington, DC 20520

 

Dear Secretary Clinton,

 

We write today to ask your assistance in helping us understand the process by which the State Department decided to buy formal stemware from Sweden for our over 400 U.S. embassies and embassy residences around the world.  We are deeply concerned that American glassware manufacturers were not even invited to bid on the State Department contract.  Wherever possible, our embassies and embassy residences should be showcases for American-made products, not foreign-made goods.  

 

New York’s Steuben Glass, for example, which has a long and rich history as a renowned art glass manufacturer, should have had an opportunity to bid on this high-profile contract.  Steuben Glass has had a relationship with every Presidential Administration going back to Truman Administration.  It is known the world over as a prominent leader in the field of high end art glass design and has been producing glassware in Corning, New York, for over 100 years.  Steuben Glass also is a major contributor to the workforce in the Steuben County region, as well as a huge source of pride for its workers and those who call the region home.  We would appreciate an explanation as to the process by which federal procurement rules allowed the State Department to bypass Steuben Glass and other U.S. glassware manufacturers as potential bidders for such a highly-visible contract.   

 

We understand that the contract was awarded without any competition, without any prior public notification, and without any formal bid process under the Section 8(a) Program for small businesses.  We gather that as a result of this non-public process, the stemware contract was awarded to a small design firm – a firm that itself appears not to manufacture anything.  And, in fact, a press release indicates that the design firm has subcontracted the contract for the manufacture of the stemware to a company that will produce the stemware in Sweden.  We would appreciate your assistance in helping us understand the facts at issue here and how the federal procurement rules, including the rules on subcontracting of manufacturing contracts (or service contracts, if applicable), address this situation. 

 

Our understanding is that Section 8(a) limitations on subcontracting require that small businesses receiving a contract perform a minimum percentage of the contract work.  With respect to supply contracts, employees of the small business are required to perform at least 50 percent of the costs of manufacturing.  Does this limitation apply with respect to the stemware supply contract?  Does the State Department anticipate that employees of the design firm will perform at least 50 percent of the costs of manufacturing?  If possible, we would appreciate your assistance in helping us understand the specific calculations for this contract. 

   

Thank you for your prompt attention to this matter.  We look forward to hearing from you on this issue.  We would also like to take this opportunity to request a copy of the stemware contract.   

 

Sincerely,

 

 

 

Charles E. Schumer                                                                             Kirsten E. Gillibrand

United States Senator                                                                                      United States Senator

###

Resource Center
chuck around new york icon
Chuck in New York
See what Chuck has been doing in
your area lately
Casework Icon
Services for New Yorkers
For help cutting through the federal government's red tape
Tours Icon
Schedule a Tour
Plan your trip to Washington D.C.
Veterans Icon
Veterans Assistance
Help for those who have served our nation
Protecting Consumers icon
Protecting Consumers
Help and Resources for New York consumers
Grants Assistance icon
Grants Assistance
Guide to applying for federal grants
Financial aid assistance icon
Financial Aid Assistance
Guide to applying for federal financial aid
e-newsletter icon
facebook icon
twitter icon
youtube icon
flickr icon
CMF Bronze Mouse Award for the 111th Congress