Contractors on the outside looking in

Stgeve LeSueur

Is the Coalition for Government Procurement essentially an arm of Washington Management Group Inc.? That's the question raised in our story on these two organizations.

The coalition is a nonprofit association whose members are contractors in the General Services Administration's Federal Supply Services' schedules program. The coalition's stated mission is to protect the interests of its members by providing needed information and by advocating common sense in government procurement policy. Its close working relationship with FSS makes it an effective voice for industry.

But some consulting firms that either hold FSS contracts or help companies get schedule contracts say the coalition won't let them join.

The excluded companies contend that the coalition won't allow them to join because the Washington Management Group, a consulting firm that helps contractors manage FSS schedule contracts and sell to government, controls the coalition. The Washington Management Group is a competitor of the excluded companies.

One executive, Ron Breland of Selbre Associates, told Staff Writer Patience Wait that his staff was physically escorted from one of the coalition's meetings.

Our reporting apparently struck a nerve with the coalition. With this issue just minutes from completion, Breland called Patience and said he made another attempt to join the coalition, and this time his company was admitted.

"They accepted the application without asking for any justifications," he said. "I would not be surprised that it was because a reporter has been making inquiries."

Coalition officials deny that they have blocked anyone from joining. Although the coalition has hired the Washington Management Group to run the advocacy group, these are two separate organizations, they say. And any company that pays the required membership fees can join, they add.

So who's right? Read Patience's front-page story and make up your mind for yourself.

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