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Global Impact loses contract to run Washington-area CFC

Jan. 10, 2013 - 06:03PM   |  
By STEPHEN LOSEY   |   Comments

Global Impact, the charity fundraiser that was harshly criticized last year for running up nearly $1.1 million in questionable spending, has lost its contract to run the Washington-area Combined Federal Campaign.

Global Impact ran the National Capital Area CFC from 2003 to 2012 as its principal combined fund organization, or PCFO. But it confirmed to Federal Times Thursday that the federal government had chosen EarthShare to run the National Capital Area CFC in 2013.

The Office of Personnel Management’s inspector general in March blasted Global Impact’s spending on the campaign as “extremely disturbing.”

The IG said Global Impact spent more than $764,000 on training and conferences, design and marketing services, luncheons and software that could have been put to better use, though auditors did not demand those funds be repaid.

But the IG demanded Global Impact repay another $308,820 in food, entertainment and travel expenses to the account used to distribute money to the charities, which Global Impact did. Nearly a third of the money OPM demanded be repaid — or $102,503 over three years — went to buy meals for loaned executives and National Capital Area CFC staff during routine CFC business.

OPM later returned $102,100 of the $308,820 to Global Impact after reviewing additional documentation and determining some of the expenses were allowable.

In an interview with Federal Times, Brandon Haller, chairman of the local federal coordinating committee that oversees the National Capital Area CFC, said the IG report did not influence the committee’s decision to sever ties with Global Impact and hire EarthShare.

He said the committee decided last fall — several months after the report’s release — to recomplete its agreement with Global Impact. The committee wanted to solicit new ideas on how to handle challenges related to the changing federal workforce, such as hiring freezes and the increasing ranks of younger federal employees. Haller also said the committee has been working on ways to strengthen the oversight of its PCFO.

Haller said that as his committee considered which organization to hire to run the CFC, members were reminded to focus only on the proposals and not to let past events influence their decisions.

“The IG report was not discussed,” Haller said. “We really tried to de-link that” from the committee’s consideration.

Haller said the committee was impressed by EarthShare’s proposed marketing strategy, and how much it would cost them to run the campaign.

Cost “was a real important concern of ours,” Haller said.

In a statement to Federal Times, Global Impact did not comment on why the change was made.

The IG report highlighted questionable spending by Global Impact, such as $11,315 for a campaign kickoff event at a 2007 Washington Nationals baseball game, $1,500 to hire Howard University’s jazz band to play at a 2007 leadership conference, $1,159 for a nighttime tour of Washington for loaned executives, and $680 for chair massages in 2007 and 2008.

Global Impact disputed most of the IG’s questionable spending findings, and said it believed it was following the rules. For example, OPM gave the National Capital Area CFC an Innovator Award after the 2007 campaign, and specifically cited the Washington Nationals event as an example of its creativity.

OPM said last year that an awards committee of regional campaign executives made that award decision, and that OPM did not know charity funds paid for the baseball game until the IG’s audit.

In its statement Thursday, Global Impact said annual revenue for the National Capital Area CFC increased from $47 million in 2003 to more than $64 million in 2011. Global Impact said it is still tallying final figures for the 2012 campaign, but has so far reached 97 percent of its $62 million goal.

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