Friday, April 2, 2010

Quickie: Not Made in the USA Glass Stemware Causes Not-So-Diplomatic Protest

Crystal glassesImage by kurafire via Flickr

The following is from the Columbus Dispatch. Apparently, a $5.4 million contract to supply glassware to US embassies worldwide was awarded to a US small business company which then subcontracted it to the Swedish company, Orrefors. Columbus-based Schottenstein Stores did not like that. And now politicians have joined the fray. Excerpt below:   

When diplomats and dignitaries rise for toasts at U.S. embassies worldwide, it soon will be foreign-made crystal stemware that is held aloft.

That has some Ohio lawmakers lodging a not-so-diplomatic protest with the U.S. Department of State.

The State Department says a $5.4 million contract to supply glassware for U.S. embassies was awarded last fall to an American-owned small business - an interior-design company in Washington. But that company, in turn, contracted with Swedish manufacturer Orrefors.
Steuben Glass of New York, which is owned by Columbus-based Schottenstein Stores, says an American manufacturer should have been allowed to compete for the business. It has taken its case to Ohio and New York lawmakers, who are complaining to the State Department.

"All we want is for the State Department to give a fair opportunity to businesses like Steuben Glass to bid on the contract and to help us maintain American jobs rather than sending them overseas," said Michael Broidy, a Schottenstein Stores spokesman.

Exactly, said Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio.

"The subcontract granted to Swedish-based Orrefors raises important questions about the right of domestic companies to bid for contracts in compliance with the Buy American Act," Brown said in a letter to the State Department.

A State spokeswoman said Systems Design Interiors is a small business that qualified for a non-bid contract through a federal Small Business Administration program. The company put on an impressive presentation of its capability to meet the State Department's needs, including a requirement for lead-free glassware, according to the State Department.

Read the whole thing here.

Last week AP reported that the U.S. crystal-maker will get a second chance at a contract to make glassware for U.S. embassies after the State Department agreed to do a better job seeking out and favoring American companies.  "The senators said the State Department had believed no American company made the lead-free crystal called for in the contract for U.S. embassies worldwide. Steuben and other companies will be able to bid on the remaining four years of the five-year contract, with most of the $5.4 million total yet to be paid."

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