Former GSA IT Contracting Officer Sentenced in Bribery Scheme

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A former procurement official overseeing contracts on IT Schedule 70 was sentenced to almost two years in prison on federal bribery charges.

A former federal contracting officer who oversaw the General Services Administration’s IT Schedule 70 was sentenced this week to nearly two years in prison after pleading guilty to federal bribery charges.

Ronnie Simpkins, 68, of Maryland, served as a contracting officer at GSA since 1989, according to his LinkedIn profile. Simpkins oversaw contracts on IT Schedule 70 from February 2010 to August 2017, for the majority of which he was receiving bribes from a commercial vendor to skirt eligibility rules and avoid paying fees required of all GSA vendors.

According to prosecutors, a Northern Virginia company—referred to only as “Company A” in court documents—was awarded a spot on Schedule 70 in 2006. However, the vendor failed to report any government sales.

Per regulations, vendors must sell at least $25,000 in goods and services to federal agencies each fiscal year to retain a spot on a GSA contract. While Company A failed to meet this metric, the requirement can be waived by an appropriate contracting officer, which Simpkins did for nearly six years.

In his guilty plea, Simpkins admitted he “recommended and signed Company A’s contracts with GSA, even though Company A failed to meet program requirements; deliberately neglected to notify GSA, as he was obligated to do, when Company A’s contract under his supervision no longer met program requirements; and advised Company A about ways to avoid contract cancellation despite failing to meet GSA’s program requirements,” the Justice Department said in a release.

In return, he received “cash, meals, and furniture from two Company A officials,” totaling just over $12,000, according to federal prosecutors, including one July 2016 gift of more than $2,000 worth of furniture.

He also “admitted to meeting the Company A officials over a dozen times at various restaurants in Northern Virginia, the Company A officials’ residences, and other places, often outside of normal GSA business hours and on weekends,” during which the company paid for the meals and gave Simpkins cash directly.

Simpkins pleaded guilty in December 2019 and was sentenced on Tuesday to 21 months in prison and one year of supervised release. He was also ordered to pay restitution in the amount of $12,108.91, plus an additional $10,000 fine.