Missouri has paid a consulting firm more than $829,000 so far in federal coronavirus aid to help coordinate the state’s pandemic response. The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports payroll records show the McChrystal Group has received the federal funding from the state. The contract bypassed the normal bidding process.
During a press conference at Washington University in St. Louis, Gov. Mike Parson defended his decision to bring in the firm.
“In July, we had the discussion whether to allow that contract to expire or not,” said Parson. “I didn’t. I was the one personally in the meeting that day and says, ‘Wait a minute – I don’t want to do that. We’ve got school starting. We’ve got universities starting. We still need to be able to figure out how to deal with this virus.’”
Parson spokeswoman Kelli Jones told the newspaper that under the contract, the firm will be eligible to continue being paid nearly $250,000 a month for its work. The governor touted the firm building a statewide dashboard of hospital data.
“There’s not been one tax dollar of the Missourians that have paid for that. It’s all been through the CARES Act and it was all through the Health Care Foundation,” said Parson. “I’m just proud of the resources they had at hand to help us to fight the virus every day and to consider that they pulled a dashboard for all the healthcare, hospitals in the state together where we could share information to the public, at the time was very valuable.”
Parson’s Democratic opponent for governor, State Auditor Nicole Galloway, said the McChrystal Group did the governor’s job for him. In a press released, she said he paid the out-of-state firm over a half million dollars in taxpayer money meant to directly help Missourians impacted by the health crisis.
“All we have to show for it is rising infections, delayed school reopenings, a positivity rate over 10%, and a spot in the White House Coronavirus Task Force’s “Red Zone,” said Galloway.
Missouri has spent over $1.5 billion of the more than $2 billion it has received as part of federal COVID-19 funding. Most of the money has gone to Missouri counties to help local governments fight the virus.
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