Vice President Biden's trip to Brazil in mid-June for the USA versus Ghana World Cup game and meetings the following day with the president and vice president of Brazil required rental of vehicles for Biden and his entourage costing over $900,000. Added to the $2.2 million cost of hotels we reported a few weeks ago, the total costs of local lodging and transportation for the trip topped $3.1 million.
The documents indicate two companies were used for vehicles and drivers:
The $908,147 estimate far outstrips the $321,665 spent in February 2013 for a vice presidential trip to Paris. The documents for the World Cup trip do not contain enough details to explain why the cost for this trip is comparatively high, but asserts that the "anticipated cost to the Government will be fair and reasonable" and that the rates are comparable to "the rates charged for similar services during this season." The documents that accompanied the Brazil hotel contract posting noted that due to the World Cup, hotel rates were up anywhere from 75 to 365 percent, but a similar statement is not included in the vehicle documents.
The State Department, the agency that handles arrangements for VIP trips, explained the reasons for the short notice and lack of full competition in awarding the contracts:
Security and logistics are the Department of State’s primary considerations when procuring vehicles rental. The Department of State must be able to provide a safe and secure vendor for VIP visitors. Frequently VIP visits are not announced or confirmed in sufficient time to conduct a competition, creating an urgent and compelling need.
The two companies chosen were able to handle communications requirements and were accommodating to the security needs of the vice president's entourage.