Emergency Times Demand Emergency $1 Million For The Bryan Family … VIDOH Says About No-Bid Contract
CHRISTIANSTED — A St. Croix-based software company poised to receive a $1 million, no-bid contract to do contact tracing in the territory is the concept of Governor Albert Bryan, Jr.’s daughter — and she is not currently licensed to do business in the Virgin Islands.
Avera Tech, which was co-founded by Bryan’s eldest daughter Aliyah, registered its trademark on July 14, and only applied for a business license on Monday, according to the Virgin Islands Department of Licensing and Consumer Affairs (DLCA).
Bryan did not hold his usual COVID-19 press briefing today, but is expected to address the fallout from a planned contract with Avera Tech at 5:30 p.m. today on “The Press Box.”
If Bryan had held his 1 p.m. press briefing as scheduled, the Virgin Islands Free Press would have asked: 1. Governor, were you aware the Health Department was planning to award a million dollar contract to a company your daughter is involved with? 2. How many no-bid contracts has your Administration awarded since you took office, who got them and how much money were each for?
Meanwhile, the Virgin Islands Health Department (VIDOH) said the $1 million dollar agreement awarded for COVID-19 contact tracing that was given to a small startup run by the governor’s daughter and one of his campaign interns did not violate procurement rules and what’s more … it “isn’t a contract.”
Local Senators criticized the Department of Health Tuesday for what they described as circumventing the procurement process in awarding a $1 million contract for COVID-19-related contact tracing to tech startup Avera.
Pemberton says on social media he is a U.S. Marine Corps corporal. He graduated from the University of the Virgin Islands (UVI) this year, according to his LinkedIn profile. Aliyah Bryan graduated last year from UVI. Neither has ever run a company of comparable size to the one that has been fully funded by the Virgin Islands Department of Finance. The company does not have a business license with DLCA.
In a statement today, Health Department officials asserted that the COVID-19 epidemic is an emergency and that contact tracing is critical work that must begin right away. It said the territorial state of emergency allows for Bryan “going outside the usual contracting process.”
Plus, it said that only one company — Avera — responded to them. And no contract has been awarded yet, according to the department. Avera is the only company with a proposal on the table, it said, and the only company being vetted currently.
“The current need for contact tracing is a matter of public health exigency and therefore the solicitation was conducted utilizing the provisions of the executive order which declared a state of emergency and suspended competitive bidding,” the statement from the Health Department said.
“After researching contact tracing companies and options in the U.S., on June 28, 2020, the department identified three companies who could provide the services. Those companies were Aytu Bioscience, AMC Health, and Avera, Inc.,” it said.
“Only Avera, Inc. responded to the request. The department moved forward with the vetting process once the proposal was received,” it stated.