ALEXANDRIA, Va.--(investor website that the Attorneys General of California and Ohio have launched civil fraud investigations into its $700 million dollar “U.S. Communities” national contract that thousands of local governments, school districts and public institutions draw upon to purchase office and school supplies. California and Ohio join Colorado, Florida, Missouri and Texas in opening such investigations.)--Office Depot has disclosed on its
“The idea that sole-source contracting offers a ‘best value’ proposition should be questioned by every federal, state and local government and institutional entity in light of the results from so many audits and investigations.”
Former account manager in Office Depot's Business Solutions Division, David Sherwin, a protected whistle-blower in Florida where the company is headquartered, has been credited with the launching of the investigations.
Today, the National Office Products Alliance (NOPA) called upon the Office of the Attorney General of California to include in its investigation of Office Depot a thorough examination of the role played by the Walnut Creek, CA-based U.S. Communities organization which has allegedly received as much as $20 million in “kickback” payments from Office Depot for sponsoring the national contract now under investigation in six states.
California’s Department of General Services recently ended its state-wide contract with Office Depot and negotiated a settlement agreement with the company for alleged overcharging. Other states, including Georgia, also have negotiated settlement agreements with the company within the past two years.
Additionally, the U.S. Departments of Defense and Education and the General Service Administration, with coordination from the U.S. Department of Justice, are conducting their own investigations into Office Depot’s handling of federal government office supplies contracts.
According to NOPA, these two new investigations again highlight the inherent problems associated with reliance on a single office supplies contracts by government agencies at all levels. “Strategic sole-source contracting has damaged competitive independent small businesses around the country, reducing vendor choice and raising prices for government customers,” said Chris Bates, President of NOPA. “The idea that sole-source contracting offers a ‘best value’ proposition should be questioned by every federal, state and local government and institutional entity in light of the results from so many audits and investigations.”
The National Office Products Alliance (NOPA) is the trade Association for independent office products dealers and their trading partners. More information is available at www.nopanet.org or by calling (800) 542-6672.