Waxman asks GSA’s Doan to resign

Panel leader casts a no-confidence vote, while Republicans call the hearing a waste

After handing down a no-confidence verdict last week against General Services Administration Administrator Lurita Doan, Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) does not appear ready to ease the pressure on Doan or GSA.

Waxman, Oversight and Government Reform Committee chairman, said he has concerns about a new GSA proposal to add oversight responsibilities, such as writing statements of work and evaluating bid proposals, to the Federal Supply Schedule. The proposal would let companies do the type of work that federal employees do now, according to Waxman’s June 14 letter to Doan.

“Outsourcing additional procurement responsibilities could contribute to the erosion of procurement oversight by federal officials, leading to more wasteful spending,” Waxman states in the letter, adding that “the committee’s procurement oversight does not generate confidence in this approach.”

But a spokesman for Rep. Tom Davis (R-Va.), the committee’s ranking member, said Davis was displeased with the majority’s latest investigation.

“It doesn’t mean GSA is turning to contractors to perform its oversight duties. It simply means that lots of agencies are using these kinds of services and they’ll now be available on this schedule,” said David Marin, a Davis spokesman. “[T]he chairman is right to be asking some questions about the proliferation of these contractor-provided services,” Marin said. But, he added, “For those of us living in reality, we recognize they are necessary because we lack enough federal employees with sufficient training and experience.”

The letter is Waxman’s latest expression of a lack of confidence in GSA and even less confidence in its administrator. He concluded a hearing at which Doan testified June 13 by asking her to resign and urging President Bush to remove her from office.

Waxman said Doan awarded a no-bid contract to a friend, violated the Hatch Act by encouraging federal employees to use government resources to help Republican congressional candidates, made false and misleading statements to investigators and disparaged colleagues in retaliation for their testimony.

However, some Republican committee members said the June 13 hearing merely reviewed old information and was a waste of time and taxpayer resources.

The hearing re-examined an incident that led to the Office of Special Counsel’s finding that Doan violated the Hatch Act.
Davis said at last week’s hearing that the Democratic-led Congress has a “vengeance for partisanship. This hearing, I think, is evidence of that,” he said.

“Most importantly, what we have to ask…is why are we, this week, with everything else is going on, holding this hearing at this time?” Davis asked. He said the committee should be focused instead on other issues such as immigration and data security.
Follow our processAfter questioning by House lawmakers, General Services Administration Administrator Lurita Doan said the agency now has a policy for screening presentations before they are given at the department.

Doan is in trouble for a comment she made in January at a partisan political presentation held at GSA, which the Office of Special Counsel found was a violation of the Hatch Act. 

“I’ve put in place processes to vet any kind of presentation — and the person who comes,” Doan told the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee June 13.

Presentations first must go to the agency’s ethics officer to review to ensure they’re suitable, she said.

“Prior to the meeting, agenda, speaker and presentation materials will be reviewed to ensure appropriateness and compliance with relevant law and policy by the GSA chief of staff and general counsel,” according to GSA’s one-page document outlining the policy.

Doan was asked what she would do if White House political adviser Karl Rove wanted to give a presentation at GSA.

“I would say, ‘Follow our process,’ ” Doan said.
— Matthew Weigelt?

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