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Scandal in the meeting planning world: Eclipse Events

This is so not good: Subcontractor's Story Details Post-9/11 Chaos (Washington Post). From this story, it appears that Sunnye L. Sims, an event planner for Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts before starting up her own meeting planning company, Eclipse Events, in 2000, cashed in big time on a meeting planning subcontract for the U.S. government to "help set up and run screener-assessment centers in a hurry at more than 150 hotels and other facilities." The project ended up being a $24 million windfall for Eclipse. And now the auditors are sniffing around:

    The cost of the overall contract rose in less than a year to $741 million from $104 million, and federal auditors concluded that $303 million of that spending was unsubstantiated.

    Spurred by that audit, federal agents are examining the entire contract and focusing on Eclipse, according to government officials and Pearson. Investigators at the Department of Homeland Security's Office of Inspector General are trying to determine how and why Eclipse obtained the work and whether the company overcharged the government or submitted false claims.

It sounds like Sims, her partner, and her lawyer aren't talking other than to say it was all on the up and up, but this smells pretty fishy to me. I know planners are always upset that no one knows, understands, or respects what they do, but I don't think this is the kind of press the industry needs. If anyone knows more about this one, please get in touch. If the allegations are true, this is truly unbelievable!

Many thanks to Rita for the pointer.

Update: I had forgotten about this article, which details how HelmsBriscoe got and fulfilled the contract. Funny, it doesn't mention subbing out work to Eclipse. And check out this quote: "“We are protecting the taxpayer’s dollars, so we are diligent about monitoring expenses,” says the TSA’s Rosenker. 'We needed documentation for everything.'” Well, I guess not exactly "everything."

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