Friday, December 20, 2013

VIP Hotel and Vehicles for Mandela Funeral Trip More Than $11M

    State Department contract awards were posted this week for "Transportation services in support of Mandela Funeral" and "Accommodation in support of the Nelson Mandela funeral in South Africa."  The accompanying Justification and Approval documents estimated the cost of transportation at a maximum of $8,286,194.74.  The transportation contract covers only ground transportation in South Africa.  Costs for Air Force One and other air travel are not included.  Two contracts were listed for the cost of lodging: one for $2,042,850 for an estimated "3,240 lodging room nights" and another for $1,190,573 for an estimated "2,490 lodging room nights" stretching from December 6, 2013 to January 20, 2014.
    It is unclear from the documents if the lodging and transportation contracts covered just the president and his support staff, or if it included President Bush, Hillary Clinton, and other current and former government officials.  The transportation contract included passenger vehicles, SUVs, vans, buses, pickup trucks, box trucks, and "larger capacity vehicles":

    One lodging contract was for the Radisson Gautrain:

    The second hotel contract was for the Michelangelo Hotel:

    As is typical of such contracts, they were not open to competition due to security concerns.  Obviously, the short notice of the funeral arrangements complicated efforts even further.  Perhaps as a result of the urgency, a third hotel contract with an estimated cost of $1,110,980 was also posted on the same site for the same trip for the Da Vinci hotel:

    However, within two hours of the posting of that contract, the notice was updated with "cancellation notice - posted in error".
    According to The New York Daily News, the president was on the ground in South Africa for less than 13 hours, arriving and departing the same day, Tuesday, December 10.
    When asked about the contract, a State Dept. spokesperson referred questions regarding the President’s travel/arrangements to the White House press office. The White House press office has not yet responded to an inquiry about the contract and related travel arrangements.

Note: A version of this article first appeared at The Weekly Standard.

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