Last month the State Department awarded a multi-million dollar contract to an upscale Georgetown interior design firm, which in turn, promptly outsourced the job to Swedish giant Orrefors. The contract is to make fine crystal stemware for 400 American embassies. Each glass will be engraved with the seal of the United States. The NY Post reports:
The contract was given to a tiny Washington, DC, interior designer, which in turn subcontracted the crystal work to a Swedish firm — snubbing such US companies as the famous manufacturer in Clinton’s own back yard, Steuben Crystal of upstate Corning.
The firm didn’t even get a chance to bid on the contract, which will outfit embassies and ambassadors’ residences with fancy crystal for ritzy functions…
The firm that got the contract, Systems Design Inc., is a small interior-design firm in tony Georgetown. The company, which is eligible for minority small-business contracts, does not appear to have done any similar work…
While there is no doubt that Orrefors creates outstanding glassware, our embassies stand as representatives of the United States around the world. Should they not be provided with the very best that America has to offer, as a way to promote the sterling quality of U.S. products, rather than shoveling the job off to a European firm?
Of course they should. And that’s where Steuben Glass comes in. Steuben has been in business in New York since 1903 and makes “the finest glass the world has ever seen.” Sadly, they are also currently in the process of laying off workers, due to the recession. When the State Department has the chance to salvage American fine craft jobs, what do they do? They reach out to their liberal European pals, ignoring the not just the quality of American artistry and craftsmanship, but also ignoring the fact that American work should adorn American embassies.
Since all this has come to light, the State Department has backed off a bit, much to the surprise of Orrefors:
“We haven’t heard anything from the U.S. State Department, so this comes as a surprise to us,” said Eva-Marie Hagstrom, an Orrefors spokesperson, in The Local. “We have a contract with the U.S. State Department. We’ve already begun production and are ready to start delivering later this spring.”
… The State Department initially explained that Steuben Glass was not considered because it did not produce lead-free crystal, which Orrefors could. Steuben disputed that, and the State Dept. has acknowledged its mistake.
The original contract is a multi-year agreement, but it has provisions to review the arrangement each year, and apparently that is what is going to happen.
Time and time again, the Obama administration has shown itself to be both tone deaf and clueless to America and Americans. And in its attempts to pander to the gods of political correctness, the State Department just reinforced that stereotype once again.