Doan says money, proper oversight brought her to Capitol Hill
- By Matthew Weigelt
- Mar 27, 2007
Lurita Doan, administrator of the General Services Administration, said in prepared testimony for the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee that her struggles with the agency's inspector general boils down to money and proper oversight, which are the two issues that brought her before the committee.
Doan said she has wrestled with GSA IG Brian Miller over making budget cuts and creating a hostile work environment.
She rejected many of the allegations against her. She denied calling Miller and his employees terrorists. She said she did not tell staff members to exclude Democrats from GSA events. And she said she made a mistake regarding the $20,000 contract to promote GSA's work with small and minority businesses, according to her testimony.
Doan told Miller to look for ways to trim his office’s budget, like she ordered other offices throughout GSA to do. Miller would not make the cuts though, she said.
“The OIG seemed to resist the notion that every division within GSA — including their own — could find ways to improve operations and find sources of wasteful spending,” she said in testimony.
She said she did not intend to intrude on Miller’s authority. But after finding that the IG added $5 million more than Congress' appropriation to a separate GSA division in financial trouble, “I quickly moved to address this imbalance.”
Doan said the IG’s office was uncomfortable with the scrutiny of its spending decisions and budget review. She added that her push for the IG to review the budget was about management of the office, not trumping his authority.
“This disagreement would continue to grow and fester as I attempted to bring a little sunshine to all GSA spending decisions,” she said.
Doan said some of the IG’s spending seemed hard to justify, such as its information technology spending that did not go through normal oversight and scrutiny that govern other GSA technology programs. She added that the IG maintains an unchecked and unaccountable human resources process for promotions and employee bonuses.
“Free of any oversight or normal fiscal discipline, the OIG senior management authorized cash bonuses that appear both questionable and excessive,” she said.
Despite a well-publicized comment about the IG, Doan denied calling OIG employees terrorists.
“In my discussions with the IG, I had expressed our mutual responsibility to ensure that employees within GSA were not ‘terrorized.’ That statement, I believe, was taken out of context,” she said.
At her confirmation hearing in May 2006, Doan said improving employee morale was an important goal for her to achieve as administrator.
In her prepared testimony, she said her discussion about the hostile work environment was private and followed a specific incident. She did not give details about the incident. GSA employees “believe they are increasingly working in a ‘gotcha’ environment that is fundamentally eroding the ability of the federal contracting officers to operate effectively,” she said.
Answering other allegations, Doan told the committee that her $20,000 contract with her friend, Edie Fraser, president of Diversity Best Practices, for a brochure promoting GSA’s work with small and minority businesses was terminated before any money exchanged hands.
“Certainly I made a mistake in my eagerness to move quickly.… But there was no intentional wrongdoing,” she said.
She also said she did not recall telling participants at a meeting in January to engage in partisan activities, such as excluding House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) from attending the opening of a federal courthouse in San Francisco.