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Federal No-Bid Contracts On Rise

"Simeone suggested an approach, which he turned into a sole-source proposal," Carnevale said in an e-mail.

On Sept. 20, about a week before the contract was awarded, Chronister was given responsibility for overseeing the work, according to an e-mail obtained by The Washington Post.

That changed five days later, when Chronister first told Dhillon about his ties to the consultants, Dhillon said in an interview. On advice from ethics officials at the department, Dhillon told Chronister not to work with Carnevale.

"Chronister was walled off from dealing with the contractor and subcontractor before the contract was signed," Dhillon said. "We made the decision with an abundance of caution."

But contact didn't cease between Chronister and the contractors.

Dhillon eased the prohibition on Chronister's contact with Simeone when the office expanded the demands of the contract, and Dhillon asked the contractor to also help prepare the office's annual report to Congress, which was months overdue. He said an ethics official approved the arrangement.

An Oct. 18 e-mail shows that Chronister was also included in communication involving the original project and a planned conference that included Simeone and Carnevale.

In November, the office organized a meeting with other drug enforcement agencies to present an outline of its plan, called "Performance Measures for United States Counternarcotics Enforcement Efforts." Both Simeone Associates and Carnevale Associates are listed on the documents.

Carnevale said he did not answer to Chronister for his work, which focused on budget matters. "Technically and legally speaking, Simeone was my supervisor," Carnevale said.

Chronister and Carnevale also maintained a close professional tie outside the office: They are listed as the authors of a March 2007 paper, "An Assessment of the U.S. Drug Control Budget." Chronister is listed on the paper as working at Carnevale Associates, and it includes an e-mail address for him at the firm.

Carnevale said the paper was actually written in 2004. He said Chronister was listed as a Carnevale employee because that was his job at the time. Carnevale said Chronister is no longer a paid employee.

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