Feds Spent $256K On Non-Existent Anti-Wildlife Trafficking Campaign

Gustavo Frazao/Shutterstock

Daily Caller News Foundation logo
Michael Bastasch DCNF Managing Editor
Font Size:

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) paid an inexperienced company $256,100 for a campaign to reduce demand for illegally trafficked wildlife and products in the U.S., according to federal investigators.

The Department of the Interior’s inspector general (IG) found FWS “improperly awarded” a cooperative agreement to the two-person company Partner-Impact for a “consumer-focused national education and outreach campaign to reduce demand for illegally traded wildlife and wildlife products in the United States.”

“Ultimately, however, Partner-Impact did not fulfill any of the requirements of the agreement,” investigators noted in a recent audit of the one-year agreement costing taxpayers hundreds of thousands of dollars.

“We found that FWS improperly awarded the agreement and that Partner-Impact failed to meet all of the agreement’s requirements,” the IG reported. “As a result, we question the $256,100 value of the cooperative agreement as unsupported costs.”

Partner-Impact claimed it created a new coalition of anti-wildlife trafficking groups called the U.S. Wildlife Trafficking Alliance, but investigators found the coalition already existed, and that Partner-Impact was, “not significantly involved in the organization of the Alliance because it did not direct major decisions such as the composition of the Alliance’s executive board.”

“Therefore, we believe that Partner-Impact did not create a new coalition, despite its claim that it had; it merely did some of its required work through an already existing coalition,” the IG found.

President Barack Obama has made a major push to combat wildlife trafficking, issuing an executive order in 2013 that created a federal task force. That task force told FWS to build a coalition of groups opposed to trafficking to push a nationwide campaign about the wrongs of illegally importing animals and animal products.

But instead of having wildlife groups compete for the contract, FWS awarded it to the New York-based Partner-Impact, even though the company had “never worked in the wildlife trafficking arena.”

On top of that, Partner-Impact had two employees, “never received a Government contract or grant, has no internal controls,” and FWS never evaluated, “the initial risk that Partner-Impact would be unable to administer Federal awards.”

FWS said it excluded actual wildlife organizations because, “there are conflicting alliances and relationships within the community of organizations that have experience in combating wildlife trafficking, and these relationships could make it difficult to select one of the more experienced organizations to assemble the broad coalition FWS was seeking.”

Investigators concluded, “it does not adequately explain why FWS excluded all organizations with experience in these issues and allowed no competition or opportunities for other interested parties to provide input.”

“Moreover, while FWS’ attempt to justify using an organization without wildlife experience would seem to increase the number of eligible applicants, it instead decreased the pool to one: Partner-Impact,” the IG found.

That’s not all. Investigators found, “FWS could not support the reasonableness of Partner-Impact’s hourly billing rate” and Partner-Impact “has no internal controls or accounting policies and procedures.”

“The absence of cost information made it impossible to determine the value of the services FWS received,” the IG reported. “Therefore, we question the entire $256,100 as unsupported.”

Follow Michael on Facebook and Twitter

All content created by the Daily Caller News Foundation, an independent and nonpartisan newswire service, is available without charge to any legitimate news publisher that can provide a large audience. All republished articles must include our logo, our reporter’s byline and their DCNF affiliation. For any questions about our guidelines or partnering with us, please contact