Newspaper article The Topeka Capital-Journal

DCF Files Suit against Army ; Suit: 'The Army's Actions Are Illegal'

Newspaper article The Topeka Capital-Journal

DCF Files Suit against Army ; Suit: 'The Army's Actions Are Illegal'

Article excerpt

The Kansas Department for Children and Families has filed a federal lawsuit against the U.S. Army, alleging the military is about to shut out the agency from providing cafeteria services at Fort Riley -- a contract worth more than $1 million.

The lawsuit, quietly filed earlier this week, accuses the Army of seeking to recategorize its food preparation contract at the Kansas military facility in a way that will keep the state of Kansas out of the bidding process. The state itself doesn't run Fort Riley's cafeteria services, but uses a vendor.

The lawsuit says the state has been awarded the Fort Riley contract since 2006 and that its bids have been competitive. But, the lawsuit says, the Army wants to add the facility's cafeteria services to a procurement list, which would remove the services from public bidding.

DCF spokeswoman Theresa Freed said the state doesn't make a profit from the contract.

"The State has filed this lawsuit to maintain the right of first refusal for licensed blind entrepreneurs to operate food and vending service businesses in federal facilities in the State of Kansas," Freed said in an email.

Once the cafeteria services are added to the list, Fort Riley would be required to purchase the services from a supplier designated by the U.S. AbilityOne Commission, which aims to provide employment to blind individuals and those with disabilities. DCF in the lawsuit says the state can't be on the list.

Kansas' current cafeteria contract already uses a licensed blind vendor, the lawsuit says.

"The successful performance of the current contract by Kansas through its licensed blind vendor demonstrates that a licensed blind vendor can provide the required cafeteria operations services at Fort Riley at a comparable price and comparable high quality when compared to other providers of such services," DCF argues in the lawsuit.

The Department of Defense declined to comment. …

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