Lawmakers demand answers from Doan on proposed IG cut

House Government Reform Committee letter to Doan

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Congress is upset about the General Services Administration’s proposals to cut its inspector general’s budget and send auditing duties to private companies, and lawmakers are letting GSA Administrator Lurita Doan know it. Several lawmakers have denounced the proposals and want explanations.

Disappointed senators sent Doan a letter today wanting to know her reasons for the proposals, and three Democrats on the House Government Reform Committee — including incoming Chairman Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) — requested Dec. 5 that Doan cancel her decision to move pre-award audits to the private sector.
Doan is “tampering with a system that works well, all to alleviate the ‘stress’ of corporations that have attempted to overcharge the taxpayer,” the representatives wrote.

On Oct. 19, Doan announced she would move oversight to small 8(a) audit firms. One of her goals for 2007 is to balance the role of the IG because firms have concerns about the office’s oversight.

“Our contracting personnel spend so much time responding to the IG, and there is a certain ‘fear factor’ that enters into that,” she said. She questioned how many pre-award audits are needed. If GSA and the IG conduct audits, Doan said it would waste money because the IG uses appropriated funds.

Sens. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) and Barack Obama (D-Ill.) want a detailed estimate of expected savings from the budget cut and how the cut will hinder the IG. They asked Doan for an analysis of her decision to move audits to outside contractors and whether that would lead to an independent analysis of GSA’s contracts, according to the letter.

Waxman and Reps. James Oberstar (D-Minn.) and Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-D.C.) wrote that Doan’s proposal to send auditing jobs to private companies risks conflicts of interest, especially with small businesses that often subcontract with the larger firms they would audit. Moreover, the private sector could be impaired from accessing proprietary business information, which companies do not easily release. IGs have authority in that area.

“Fundamentally, our concern is that you have not made a coherent case that explains how your proposal would benefit the taxpayer compared to the system now in place,” their letter states.

Lawmakers told Doan she is moving against past support for more pre-award audits from former GSA Administrator Steve Perry and former Office of Federal Procurement Policy Administrator David Safavian. Doan is also contradicting the Government Accountability Office’s recommendations.

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