In the days and weeks after Hurricane Sandy wrecked ports, resorts, and power lines across the mid-Atlantic coast, the Obama administration launched multiple projects targeting the revitalization of such infrastructure. Not in seaside New Jersey, New York, and Connecticut, but in cities across India: Ahmedabad, Bangalore, and Mumbai.
The U.S. Trade & Development Agency (USTDA)—an independent White House agency—claims that such global endeavors help create “U.S. jobs through the export of U.S. goods and services for priority development projects in emerging economies.”
Upon closer inspection, however, Patriot Update has discovered that taxpayers will foot the bill for industry trips to India—trips taken on behalf of a consortium whose members include multinationals such as ExxonMobil, GE, and IBM.
The combined annual profits of these and other members of the U.S. India Energy Cooperation Program (ECP) reaches many tens of billions of dollars, with ExxonMobil alone accounting for $41 billion of that total. Nonetheless, USTDA’s “India Smart Grid and Energy Efficiency” project will provide a $77,000 grant to cover airfares to India and a weeks’ worth of hotel rooms to conduct a “definitional mission,” or DM.
President Obama helped launch the ECP in 2010, after visiting India along with USTDA Director Leocadia Zack and U.S. Secretary of Commerce Gary Locke, according to the ECP website. Zack and Locke signed a memorandum of understanding, or MOU, with Indian officials “to promote commercially viable clean energy infrastructure, greater deployment of energy efficiency technologies, and increased U.S. India trade in these areas.”
According to a planning document that Patriot Update located via routine database research, USTDA “received preliminary proposals and project ideas” from ECP member companies as well as grant-seekers from “several Indian states.”
The DM will help the agency decide whether to fund future projects “in the areas of smart grid, energy efficiency, and green buildings technologies,” the Statement of Work document says.
Since “maritime transport is vital to India’s external and domestic trade, USTDA launched a separate DM that will pay the travel costs of ports and shipping industry representatives.
A private contractor will receive a grant to cover a visit to India on behalf of U.S. companies offering goods and services specific to those maritime sectors.
According to the Statement of Work for Solicitation #RFQ-CO201331028, the Government of India intends to invest about “$66 billion for the ports sector and $27 billion for the shipping sector.”
This national expansion of port capacity presents “significant opportunities” for U.S. companies “to expand and enhance the security and efficiency of port operations” throughout India.
The selected contractor will spend two weeks in India assessing potential industry opportunities, subsequently providing a report to USTDA containing recommendation for additional agency funding.
USTDA did not disclose the estimated value of this particular grant.
U.S. India Energy Cooperation Program
Definitional Mission: India Smart Grid and Energy Efficiency, Solicitation #RFP-CO201331035 https://www.fbo.gov/?s=opportunity&mode=form&tab=core&id=2f1589faf71ed8b970fb4d48558190ff&_cview=0
Definitional Mission: India Ports Sector Project, Solicitation #RFQ-CO201331028