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Safavian makes Page One

Yes, the arrest and resignation of now former Office of Federal Procurement Policy administrator David Safavian makes the front page of both the WP and NYT.

Here is how Slate's Today's Papers puts it -- which makes note of our friends over at Government Executive:
The Post and NYT front the indictment of the White House's just-resigned top procurement official, David Safavian [.pdf], for allegedly giving under-the-table help to uber-lobbyist Jack Abramoff and then lying to investigators about it. Safavian, as Post puts it, "set purchasing policy for the entire government," he resigned last week, when the indictments were written up. According to a piece in Government Executive magazine last year, he came to the gig with little procurement experience. Before his time in the administration, he worked as a lobbyist with Jack Abramoff. (And final bit of fun: Safavian's wife is the top lawyer on the House committee that oversees government procurement.)

Some other writings out there:
* From the Project On Government Oversight (POGO) blog:
Whether or not Safavian is guilty of the charges against him, he does shares some striking similarities with the disgraced former FEMA chief Mike Brown. Neither Safavian nor Brown had much relevant professional experience before they received their political appointments.

* Blogger Laura Rozen:
Wonder who recommended Safavian to the White House for the job in the first place? Abramoff recommend it to Rove? Norquist?

There are others in the blogging world and many other news stories.

Despite Government Executive's and POGO's take, former OFPP administrator and FCW columnist Steve Kelman earlier this year praised him for showing procurement leadership. Kelman is out of the country at the moment, so I have not been able to touch base with him about this. I do know that other folks that I know in the procurement world were shocked. The OFPP post doesn't usually get this kind of attention, needless to say. Hence the WP's description.

This is one of those stories where we have to focus on what it means to you -- FCW readers. The big guys will be focusing on the Abramoff connections and related stories. We are working on our ongoing coverage right now, but one of the big issues that arises is what it all means to procurement. As I mentioned yesterday, there is a lot of upheval in the procurement world right now. Rep. Tom Davis (R-Va.) is toying with the idea of leaving the House; the General Services Administration is in the process of reorganizing; and now the administration's top procurement person is arrested. Meanwhile there is a growing chorus of people questioning the procurement flexibilities that agencies have been given. Some of those issues are not IT related -- the Air Force/Boeing issue, for example. But changes will impact IT procurements.

An aside -- from the 'enough about me, what do you think about me' file -- FCW was scheduled to have a sit down with Safavian a few months ago, but OMB pulled out at the last minute. We had described it as a sit down with FCW's editorial board -- the senior editors of the pub. That freaked them out. I don't think it had anything to do with these issues because, to be very honest, I didn't know about the Abramoff connection.

I have already heard the conspiracy theories bubbling up, but given GSA's role in procurement and GSA's ongoing reorganization, which we hearing is not going all that smoothly, there needs to be a strong leader at OFPP.

Posted by Christopher Dorobek on Sep 20, 2005 at 12:14 PM


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