TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas is suing the U.S. Army, alleging that the military is trying to prevent the state from continuing to provide cafeteria service at Fort Riley, a contract worth about $1.1 million a year that it’s received since 2006.
The Kansas Department for Children and Families filed the lawsuit this week, claiming that the Army is seeking to add the fort’s cafeteria service to a procurement list, which would remove it from public bidding and leave the state unable to provide the service, The Topeka Capital-Journal reported.
If the cafeteria service is added to a procurement list, Fort Riley would be required to buy the services from a supplier designated by the U.S. AbilityOne Commission, which provides employment to blind and disabled people.
Kansas and the Army are in arbitration process to resolve the dispute. But DCF said it is seeking an injunction to stop the Army from purchasing cafeteria services elsewhere until the dispute is resolved.
The state’s current cafeteria contract already uses a licensed blind vendor, according to the lawsuit. DCF spokeswoman Theresa Freed said Kansas does not make a profit from the contract. She said the lawsuit was filed to give the state the right to first refusal for licensed blind entrepreneurs to operate food and vending service in federal facilities in Kansas.
Department of Defense spokesman Nate Christensen told the newspaper the agency does not comment on pending litigation.
A federal law, the Randolph-Sheppard Vending Facility Act, requires that blind vendors be given priority for contracts for cafeteria operations on federal property. DCF contends the Army is justifying moving the cafeteria contract to a procurement list under a different federal law, the Javits-Wagner-O’Day Act, which requires federal agencies to purchase services from nonprofits that employ blind individuals and those with disabilities.
In the lawsuit, DCF argues the Randolph-Sheppard law should be the controlling law for food service contracts.
“The only options the Army has with respect to awarding a follow-on contract to the one Kansas currently performs for DFA services is to either enter into direct negotiations with Kansas or require Kansas to once again compete under the Randolph-Sheppard priority,” the lawsuit reads.
The current contract expires at the end of August.
DCF’s food-related contract for Fort Leavenworth, valued at about $222,000, is not part of the new lawsuit.
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