Senate committee concerned about Doan's IG comments

The Senate Armed Services Committee is concerned about the attitude of the General Services Administration’s leaders toward the inspector general’s oversight, the committee’s general counsel said today.

Peter Levine, general counsel and chief adviser to committee chairman Sen. Carl Levin (D-Mich.), said GSA Administrator Lurita Doan’s attacks on GSA IG Brian Miller raised flags with the committee.

“There may be a change in attitude at GSA, which would undermine progress that I think the agency has made over the last three or four years,” he said in a speech at the Coalition for Government Procurement conference.

The committee is watching GSA, although it has not reached any conclusions on the situation.

In October 2006, Doan said she intended to pull funding away from the IG and send more audits to small auditing firms. She said having the Office of the IG and the private businesses performing the same audits would waste money. She also made news when some media outlets reported that she referred to Miller as a terrorist.

Nevertheless, President Bush’s fiscal 2008 budget proposal tells GSA and the IG to work together to make the agency run efficiently. Giving few details, Andrew Patchan, senior auditor at GSA’s OIG, who also spoke today at the conference, said the pilot program is intended to bring the two sides to a comfortable medium.

Levine said Congress will not decrease IGs’ audits and investigations as long as they keep finding waste and abuses. Barely more than half of all task orders are competitive, leaving plenty of room for problems. Meanwhile, fewer audits leave the government vulnerable.

Levine also suggested eliminating abuses by replenishing the workforce with qualified people.

He emphasized the importance of rebuilding the acquisition workforce to better manage government contracting. Many current contracting officers are overwhelmed with the amount of work they have. He said it will take at least 15 years to refill the workforce. There is no quick fix, he said.

As for an overall contracting agenda, Levine said the committee’s new Democratic leaders will not divert far from the direction the committee was headed.

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