For Bush appointees, can the investigations be far behind?

Saturday, February 03, 2007 at 05:17 PM

Yet another one.  The Bush-appointee heading the General Services Administration is now under investigation by two bodies for her actions in handing a $20,000 no-bid contract to her personal friend who, just by coincidence, wasn't eligible for a no-bid contract.


The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee is launching its own investigation into allegations that the head of the General Services Administration made an inappropriate sole-source contracting deal with her friend's public relations firm.

In Jan. 19 letters, Committee Chairman Henry Waxman, D-Calif., requested GSA Administrator Lurita Doan and others involved provide documents and communications related to the July event.

Waxman's letters followed a Jan. 19 Washington Post report that revealed GSA's Office of the Inspector General is investigating a $20,000 sweetheart deal Doan personally signed with her friend Edie Fraser, president of Public Affairs Group Inc. The Post published documents showing Doan's signature on the contract under investigation.
Waxman has requested information from Doan, Fraser and former GSA attorney Alan Swendiman. According to the Post, Swendiman was the attorney who advised Doan to terminate the illegal contract.

The contract, which was to create a report to promote GSA's use of minority- and woman-owned small businesses, was terminated last summer when agency attorneys and officials discovered the sole-source award was not properly justified under federal regulations and was not reviewed by contracting officers, according to the Post.
A statement issued by a GSA spokeswoman said: "Administrator Doan takes seriously the GSA's leadership role as the premier contracting and service provider. As the long-time career attorney who reviewed this matter explained to The Washington Post, this incident has already been reviewed and no improprieties have been found."

Doan told the Post the deal was a mistake and no money had changed hands. Doan, who is a former government contractor, said she believed she was following proper procedures when striking the deal with her long-time friend, according to the report.

The investigation is the latest in a series of clashes between Doan and the GSA IG. Doan and the IG have sparred in recent months after Doan decided to cut funding for the inspector's pre-award audit services.

In an October speech she announced she was planning to outsource those services to disadvantaged small businesses. She said at the time that IG audits had caused fear among contracting auditors and vendors alike. In his letter, Waxman noted the Post reported that her action to reduce the IG's role in pre-award audits came after the IG initiated its investigation into the no-bid contract.

"IG audits had caused fear among contracting auditors and vendors alike..."  You bet, especially the ones who were ineligible for the awards, the ones who kicked back a few bucks here and there, and the ones who were robbing the government blind.

God knows that the contractors would prefer no one looking over their shoulders, or their books.  The rest of us, however....