GSA's Doan, IG struggle over money

Lurita Doan, administrator of the General Services Administration, fired back today at the GSA inspector general’s “old Washington two-step” regarding cuts to the office’s budget.

The Washington Post wrote Dec. 2 about Doan’s push to cut back Inspector General Brian Miller’s budget and decrease the number of audits, limiting his ability to do his job and intimidating his workforce.

Doan said she has asked all parts of GSA to trim spending as she tries to save money.

“Well, as you know, I’m new to this business and I’m not a Washington political insider, but I have learned to recognize the old Washington two-step that’s been around for a very long time,” Doan said in a speech at the Government Contract Management Conference, hosted by the National Contract Management Association.

The two-step comes whenever an agency has to cut its budget, Doan said. The agency attempts to put up its most important program as a sacrificial lamb. But, she added, there are always other options, and the IG has many options to cut back its budget.

Doan said Miller told her that his office could not cut spending or keep the spending increase below 30 percent. “I wish, I really wish I could have gotten an automatic 30 percent increase in my business’ budget every year. Don’t you?”

Doan said the IG asked GSA to comment on useful audits for the upcoming year. She gathered a task force of high-ranking GSA officials, including Deputy Administrator David Bibb and representatives from agency divisions, to evaluate potential audits.

She said the GSA task force offered its suggestions for useful audits. For example, they considered an audit of the Federal Acquisition Service impractical because, “we only stood it up last month,” she said. Doan and the task force suggested that the IG postpone the audit.

Robert Samuels, spokesman for the IG, said the recommendations suggest cuts to 50 percent of Miller’s audits. He said Miller considered that to be drastic.

Samuels added that the funding issue boils down to $5 million that GSA officials want, which the IG intends to use for fiscal 2007 preaward audits. The question is who will get the money, he said.

Doan said she has asked the agency to do more with less money, especially with the new FAS.

“From my experience, which I have gained over the last 96 hours or so, cutting wasteful spending — even of a very small amount — is not an easy task,” she said.

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