Congress begins to investigate Doan

Letters to Doan, Fraser and Swendiman

The chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee sent letters today to the General Services Administration, the White House and a public affairs company embroiled in contracting irregularities as the committee begins investigations into the troubles.

The Washington Post reported today that Lurita Doan, GSA administrator, tried to give a no-bid contract to a company run by a longtime friend. Doan signed a contract with her friend’s firm, Public Affairs Group, for $20,000 to produce a 24-page report promoting GSA’s use of minority- and woman-owned businesses, according to the front-page story.

The story states that GSA terminated the contract last summer after GSA lawyers and other agency officials identified possible regulation compliance problems, calling the contract a mistake.

In his letters, Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.), chairman of the committee, asked for the contract described in the Post article, along with any e-mail messages, phone records and meeting notes about interactions between longtime friends Doan and firm owner Edie Fraser. He wants information from both women from as far back as two months before Doan’s appointment as administrator, according to the letters dated Jan. 19.

Waxman also sent a letter to Alan Swendiman, general counsel at GSA, when the contract was signed. He requested that Swendiman, who now is director of the White House Office of Administration, turn over any communications between the public affairs firm and Doan and any information related to GSA’s move to limit business dealings with KPMG, Ernst and Young, PricewaterhouseCoopers, Booz Allen Hamilton and BearingPoint.

Waxman also wants information on restricting the GSA inspector general from conducting preaward audits. In addition, he wants documents relating to whether the IG should disclose to GSA officials outside the IG’s office information about ongoing investigations, according to the letter.

In October 2006, Doan said she planned to shift preaward audits from the GSA IG to small audit firms. The announcement raised the ire of the IG and Capitol Hill.

Waxman wants the information by Feb. 2.

One of Waxman’s priorities is to bring accountability to government procurement. He reiterates in each letter that his committee “is the principal oversight committee…and has broad oversight jurisdiction.”

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