Tuesday, April 28, 2009

NOPA Calls on Georgia, Michigan and Other State Attorneys General to Investigate Whistleblower’s Allegations against Office Depot

(BUSINESS WIRE)--Today the National Office Products Alliance (NOPA) called upon Attorneys General in Georgia, Michigan and other states to open investigations into allegations of fraudulent pricing and overcharging by Office Depot on government contracts for office and classroom supplies. NOPA applauds the Attorneys General of Florida, Missouri and Texas for launching formal investigations into similar allegations, as well as the newly appointed Inspector General for the Detroit public schools system, who recently launched an investigation.

NOPA now calls on the Attorneys General of Alabama, Arizona, Colorado, Georgia and Michigan to follow the leads of other states and formally launch investigations into complaints filed by whistleblower David Sherwin alleging fraudulent pricing and overcharging in their respective states.

Through an expanding number of state and local government and school district audits and investigations of national "piggyback" contracts such as the Office Depot/U.S. Communities national agreement for office and classroom supplies, public officials have found evidence of allegations contained in Sherwin’s complaints.

Of particular concern, these agreements remove local officials from direct oversight of office and school supplies contracts and stifle local bidding and competition, which is a key to ensuring best value for government purchasers and contract compliance. NOPA believes the lack of ongoing competition produced the conditions in which the alleged practices under the Office Depot/U.S. Communities agreement occurred, and contributed to higher prices for office and classroom supplies in the affected local jurisdictions.

Local media have played an instrumental role in bringing allegations of fraud and overcharging to public attention. Major stories on alleged serious abuses in sole-source state and local government contracts for office products were broken by Leisa Zigman KSDK-TV, St. Louis; Allison Ross, Palm Beach Post; Bill Frogameni, South Florida Business Journal; J. Douglas Allen-Taylor, Berkeley Daily Planet, Berkeley, CA; and PĂ©ralte C. Paul, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

It is essential for the credibility of the office products industry that states’ attorneys general now fully investigate allegations of contract fraud and overcharging.

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