The U.S. Department of State once again has resumed its search for providers of high-end crystal stemware and other tabletop glassware, only this time the estimated cost has leaped back up a couple of million.
The estimated price tag previously was $5.4 million, but had dipped to $3.5 million at the time of the initial report. That estimate has jumped to $5 million--though State assures taxpayers that it will not spend more than $2 million on the glasses in any given year over the five year life of the contract.
As U.S. Trade & Aid Monitor reported in April 2011--the very month of the Monitor's official launch--State under then-Secy. Hillary Clinton began shopping around for
tens of thousands of pieces of crystal tabletop-ware such as champagne flutes, water goblets, and brandy snifters, as well as wine, martini, and beer glasses, would be acquired. Not just any crystal pieces, according to the solicitation, but only those “of the quality that is sold in high end retail department stores for fine dining, such as Neiman Marcus, Bloomingdales, Saks Fifth Avenue, Bergdorf Goodman, Nordstrom, Lux Bond & Green, Borsheims, Michael C. Fina, etc."
State justifies this expenditure because
The United States international relations, national interest and success are, in part, built upon the ability of our ambassadors to entertain host country nationals in our embassies and residences abroad. In this regard, furniture, art and tableware that are provided by the Department of State to our embassies and residencies abroad represent U.S. cultural and manufacturing excellence to our host country guests.
Unlike the 2011 solicitation, the revised contracting document is not accompanied by an itemized list of glassware requirements. Consequently, it remains unclear whether State has added new categories of martini glasses or simply intends to increase the number of champagne flutes it will acquire.
Source document: Solicitation #SAQMMA13R0126.