January 21, 2007

One Friend Washes Another: Lurita Doan

From a six month review of Lurita Doan's tenure at the GSA, or General Services Administration, which helps other federal agencies coordinate large procurements:

... Another factor was a shift in agencies’ buying behavior. GSA had been under a harsh spotlight after its inspector general investigated the agency’s client support centers and found that employees in many of those offices had been violating various federal contracting rules. Some blame GSA’s loss of business on a subsequent Get It Right program, which they say emphasized contracting compliance at the expense of customer service. That emphasis slowed GSA’s response to agencies’ needs, and customers found alternatives to GSA.

Doan was appointed in June to rebuild GSA and restore its former reputation as the premier federal procurement shop.

At her nomination hearing, she told lawmakers that GSA must improve its customer focus, make timely and conclusive decisions, and create a culture of change to meet and adapt to customers’ needs. Doan said she knew that GSA’s largest customers were unhappy and that many had already taken their business elsewhere, but she vowed to win them back.

An entrepreneur at heart, Doan said she wants to prove she can run a federal agency like a business. When she found GSA had a deficit of more than $100 million, she asked the agency to make a 9 percent across-the-board cut in spending. ...

As it happens, you can run the GSA like a business. Too bad the business model Doan had in mind seems to have come from Halliburton. First, she wanted to cut auditing:

The new chief of the U.S. General Services Administration is trying to limit the ability of the agency's inspector general to audit contracts for fraud or waste and has said oversight efforts are intimidating the workforce, according to government documents and interviews.

GSA Administrator Lurita Alexis Doan, a Bush political appointee and former government contractor, has proposed cutting $5 million in spending on audits and shifting some responsibility for contract reviews to small, private audit contractors.

Doan also has chided Inspector General Brian D. Miller for not going along with her attempts to streamline the agency's contracting efforts. In a private staff meeting Aug. 18, Doan said Miller's effort to examine contracts had "gone too far and is eroding the health of the organization," according to notes of the meeting written by an unidentified participant from the Office of Inspector General (OIG). ...

Then, the smoking, no-bid contract:

The head of the General Services Administration found herself embroiled in a new controversy Friday in the wake of a report that she attempted to award a no-bid $20,000 contract to a longtime friend. ...

The full story is available in the Washington Post, outlining the deal and Doan's reaction to it, courtesy of Scott Higham and Robert O'Harrow Jr., who also wrote about Doan's proposed cuts to the auditing budget. Thanks for highlighting yet another corner of the wingnut welfare establishment, because no one person could be expected to keep an eye on the whole thing.

Update 3-28: The story gets worse as it's learned that Doan was using the GSA as an extension office of the Republican National Committee. Indeed, the profusion, as well as the mendacity, malevolence, incompetence, and sheer disconnection from reality of the Republican criminal corps now infesting our nation's government at the behest of the Bush administration is enough to drive a person into shrill, unholy madness.

Posted by natasha at January 21, 2007 08:38 AM | Corruption & Graft | Technorati links |

There are more installments in the series from Robert O'Harrow and Scott Higham. According to this story, at GSA, where Tom Davis forced out Angela Styles for friend and felon David Safarian, Lurita Doan took over. Doan was a very friendly donor to Davis when he was RNCC Chair; the Doan family gave $153,215 to Republicans and over $40,000 to Davis's RNCC when he was Chair. At GSA, for the second time in her federal career, Doan illegally bypassed her own staff to provide a no-bid contract to a friend.

Although the Post states that three Committee members signed a letter asking for an explanation of the fraud, they don't dare embarrass Tom Davis by saying Davis, the Committee Chair, was not bothered enough by the stink to be one of the signers. The letter asking for an explanation was signed by minority Committee members Waxman, Holmes-Norton, and Obserstar.

On her way out of GSA, Styles had said "There is still not a lot of oversight in some areas of our contracting system, and I think it will haunt us." Done.

Posted by: Beat Tom Davis at January 22, 2007 06:42 PM