Democrats request closer look at CMS administrator's contract awards

House and Senate Democratic committee leaders are requesting that the HHS Office of Inspector General probe whether CMS Administrator Seema Verma stuck to federal regulations and ethics requirements in her agency's awarding of contracts, according to Bloomberg.

The request is from Frank Pallone Jr., chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee; Elijah Cummings, chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Reform; Ron Wyden, ranking member of the Senate Committee on Finance; and Patty Murray, ranking member of the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions.

In a March 29 letter, the committee leaders cite a Politico report, which states that Ms. Verma "employs a team of private consultants who write her speeches, polish her brand and travel with her across the country."

Contracts and subcontracts approved by Ms. Verma reportedly included a $2.25 million contract with Porter Novelli, an international public relations firm.

"Our committees have long-standing interests in ensuring responsible stewardship of taxpayer dollars and that funds are spent on advancing agency initiatives — not for the personal benefit of agency political leaders and their well-connected associates," the committee leaders wrote.

They asked the inspector general to review whether Ms. Verma's actions regarding the contracts complied with federal regulations and ethics requirements.


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