credit: DHS

In 2014, Relisha Rudd, an 8-year-old girl living at DC’s largest homeless shelter, DC General, was abducted by a shelter janitor. His body has been found; Rudd’s has not.

A nonprofit called Community Partnership for the Prevention of Homelessness has operated DC General since 2010, under contract with the District’s Department of Human Services. In addition to their failure to protect Rudd, Community Partnership was audited in 2015 and found to be illegally overbilling the city by $5.3 million.

So, imagine my surprise a few months ago to see council consent on over $80 million in contracts to the Community Partnership. The contracts included strengthened requirements for “quality control” and stated that no other group was found competent enough to receive the contract.

How the Community Partnership could be found competent was not explained.

If no one organization can operate the entire “continuum of care” for D.C.’s homeless population, the work should be split up. If DHS cannot effectively manage multiple contracts, it should hire a highly qualified firm to do so.

Sometimes failures in contracting are amusing for their ridiculousness. I roll my eyes and trace the alternate paths in my head. But this time, I’m outraged and reminded that what we do is important. Please, let us do it well.

Jason Lee Bakke is a writer and acquisition adviser to D.C. and federal clients.