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Keeping the procurement debate fair

I read the Project on Government Oversight's blog regularly. I'm actually a fan of the goals of the group -- oversight. But they occasionally go over the top -- almost joining the conspiracy theorists -- by making unsubstantiated allegations.

Take this recent post on the WP story about the GSA infighting between Doan and the IG:

Doan has a pattern for disliking contract oversight, which probably has something to do with the fact that she's a former government contractor. We've mentioned Doan before in this blog when she appointed James Williams to head up the Federal Acquisition Service, which was likely a move to return a favor to Williams after he helped Doan to land contracts when she owned and ran New Technology Management, a contractor for the Department of Homeland Security.

So we are to assume that Williams gave Doan's company contacts in order to go from an underpaying job at a troubled, dysfunctional agency to another underpaying job at another troubled, dysfunctional agency?

I appreciate that the group disagrees with Williams about the role of industry -- and that is a healthy debate to have. But it just seems so cheep to make these kinds of charges without any facts to back them up.

I have asked POGO for information backing up this allegation. I haven't heard back yet. I also started doing some checking to see if Doan's company had contracts with DHS or specifically with US-VISIT.

But without facts, these kinds of allegations just make me wince. It seems akin to a Michael Moore movie -- there are a few facts and then we are supposed to roll our eyes and make the connections. They even write that it is "likely" that it is a favor to Williams.

If true, give me the facts and I'll run it in the next issue of FCW.

There are some facts: Williams has been a career civil servant who has worked at a number of agencies. He has given his entire career in the service of the American people. One may disagree with his views on government contracting, but if we are going to tar him, it just seems that it should be justified. Otherwise it seems we all share a common goal: good government. The disagreements are over how to get there.

Meanwhile, in the absence of facts, it seems just as likely that Williams simply has a view of government contracting that is diferent from the one that POGO supports. That subject is open for debate, but I don't understand why we can't have that debate without having to smear those with whom we disagree.

I respect POGO's mission. Oversight is essential. But these kinds of unsubstantiated claims seem to merely feed the group's critics who argue that the organization is just shrill rather then a group that is attempting to add to the debate.

As an aside, one of my favorite parts of the POGO blog are the comments.

Here are the comments regarding the recent WP story on the GSA infighting between Doan and the IG.

First, the names these people commenting give themselves -- Connie the Contractor or K Street Buddy Redux. (No names, of course.)

But then, FCW got dragged into the discussion. Connie and K Street were having a rare moment of agreement -- this doesn't happen often -- and then "Beyond the Beltway" posts this:

KSBR and Connie, you two corporate whores need to get together, do it, and get over with it. You two have such a crush on each other you can't even think straight. You can read a little FCW to put you in the mood.

Oh well. I'm sure I'm in for a ton o' e-mail coming my way after this post anyway.

Posted by Christopher Dorobek on Dec 15, 2006 at 12:15 PM


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