State Dept. Spent Millions on Embassy Crystal Week Before Shutdown

Monday, 07 Oct 2013 10:22 PM

By Cathy Burke

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On the eve of the government shutdown, the State Department went on a spending spree, awarding a contract worth up to $5 million for fancy crystal stem and barware for its embassies around the world, the Valley News website reported.

Valley News reported Sunday that the five-year contract went to Simon Pearce to produce the high-end, custom-crafted glassware.

“Simon Pearce is a natural fit for this, given its production in Vermont and Maryland," Clay Adams, chief executive officer at Simon Pearce, told Valley News in an email.

"Simon Pearce received its first purchase order . . . for more than 12,000 pieces, most of which will be produced here in Vermont later this year."

The contract award was posted Sept. 30 on the Federal Business Opportunities website.

"We’re thrilled with the contract and will take great pride in having Vermont product in the hands of people around the world," Adams said.

The State Department largesse came during the frenzied last week of the fiscal year, known in Washington as "use it or lose it" season, when government agencies are forced to spend leftover budgeted funds or give them back and lose them in future budgets, Valley News noted.

During the last week of September 2012, the government reportedly spent $45 billion on contracts and spending spiked by $100 billion — even as some have criticized the wisdom of the spending choices.

The contract was originally awarded two years ago to a U.S.-based company that outsourced the production to Europe, Valley News reported.

Adams credited "the efforts of the Vermont’s congressional delegation and that of other states with domestic glass producers."

“It is a great way to show that U.S.-based manufacturing can produce a stunning product using a combination of timeless artisanship and modern technology," he said.

Vermont Sen. Patrick Leahy, chairman of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on State, Foreign Operations and Related Agencies, was instrumental in helping Simon Pearce get the contract — and wrote to Secretary of State John Kerry in support of the bid, Valley News reported.

“It is wonderful to have such an exquisite example of Vermont craftsmanship on display and in use in our embassies around the world,” Leahy said in a news release, Valley News reported. He added that "Marcelle and I have visited many of those embassies, and knowing that Simon Pearce’s products will be there is something that all Vermonters should be proud of."

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