Lurita Doan resigns as GSA administrator

Lurita Doan has resigned as the General Services Administration’s administrator after less than two years in the position. Bush administration officials asked for her resignation late Tuesday night.

“It has been a great privilege to serve with all of you and to serve our nation and a great president,” Doan wrote to GSA officials after getting the White House’s request.

Doan has been highly controversial  during much of her 22 months at GSA.

“You should know that your GSA administrator has been in the fight, has been pushing reforms, encouraging innovation and has ventured out into hostile territory,” Doan said in a speech at the GSA Expo in California on April 23.

GSA officials are scheduled to meet this afternoon to discuss Doan’s resignation. David Bibb, deputy GSA administrator, will take the acting administrator role.

Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.), chairman of the Oversight and Government Reform Committee, said on Wednesday that the president's decision may have been a tough, but it was the right decision to make.

A year ago, House and Senate Democrats called for Doan’s resignation, saying she stepped into prohibited political territory on Jan. 26, 2007. During a  political briefing that day by the White House’s J. Scott Jennings to 30 GSA political appointees,  Doan asked, "How can we help our candidates?”

The question sparked hearings in Congress and angered lawmakers. Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.), chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, along with Sens. Byron Dorgan (D-N.D.) and Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) called for her resignation.

Dorgan and Wyden said Doan needed to leave GSA, because of possible violations of the Hatch Act. Although Doan denied wrongdoing, Scott Bloch, special counsel at the Office of Special Counsel, found that she had violated that law, which forbids the use of government resources for political ends. Bloch recommended that the White House take disciplinary action. However, he did not include specific actions in his report on the situation.

The senators also said she should resign because of a $20,000 no-bid contract GSA gave to a personal friend of Doan's and her disputes with GSA Inspector General Brian Miller.

Meanwhile, Doan noted that she has sparred with congressional overseers and with Miller in particular.

“I will also add that the oversight community needs to step up and be accountable for its own operations and can no longer be permitted to bend rules, guidelines and statutory responsibilities when it is inconvenient,” Doan said in her April 23 speech at the Expo. “The rules need to apply equally to everyone, or we run the risk of allowing for a divisive double standard to exist. Furthermore, our oversight and regulators need to find a better balance and be more willing to find creative solutions to existing problems.”

Rep. Tom Davis (R-Va.), ranking member of the oversight committee and a supporter of Doan, said Tuesday night it would be a shame if the White House’s request for Doan’s resignation resulted from “the hyperbolic and unfounded allegations of Bloch and others who were after her just to claim another administration scalp.”

Davis said personality conflicts played a role in Doan's problems.

“Certainly, her management style was not everyone’s cup of tea,” he said. “But she appears to have fallen victim to a bureaucratic culture that fears rather than rewards entrepreneurial spirit, innovation and bold leadership.”


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About the Author

Matthew Weigelt is a freelance journalist who writes about acquisition and procurement.

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