Bwog has obtained details of a contract between U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), the federal law enforcement agency which enforces immigration regulations and whose facilities house detained migrant children, and The Trustees of Columbia University in the City of New York, the official corporate name of Columbia University.
The contract, a screenshot of which is embedded below, is a purchase order worth $150,000 from May 29th, 2019, with the description “SME medical protocols for assessing individuals trying to cross our Southern border.” It is unclear what service Columbia is providing to CBP in exchange for the $150,000.
Harvard University also received a contract worth the same amount, with the same description, on the same day; however, CBP canceled the purchase on June 13th with the description “P00001 is issued to remove all funds – services to be moved and ordered through Brigham and Women’s Hospital – no contractor staff changes or SOW changes made with this modification.” Harvard and Columbia were the only two universities to receive contracts on this date; Columbia’s was never refunded.
We’ve reached out to Columbia for comment on the nature of this purchase and who in the Columbia community was aware of its existence; we’ll update this article with the statement if and when we receive it. Thanks to Twitter user @juan_diego0o and Ana Barrios, CC ’21, for originally spotting the purchase. If you know anything more about this contract, please contact us.
Updated June 28th, 2019 4:30pm: A spokesperson from Customs and Border Protection told us “our agency is actively, with the humanitarian crisis, we are contacting people to help provide medical screening support,” and guessed that “SME” stands for “Subject Matter Expert.” The spokesperson clarified that “Our border agents aren’t doctors; a lot of them have EMT training but not anything more than that.”
Documents were obtained through the Federal Procurement Data System. Cover image via MaxPixel.