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Doan... The rest of the story...

With Federal Computer Week's Buzz of the Week this week regarding Doan, I got this e-mail from her attorney:

I read your comment on FCW.com this morning concerning the Office of Special Counsel ("OSC") investigation concerning GSA Administrator Lurita Doan, whom we represent, and I am providing the the following information to give you a more complete and accurate context for points you raised.

The way in which the OSC report addresses the corroboration of Administrator Doan's e-mail activity during the January 26th meeting is one example of the larger problem of the lack of objectivity, impartiality, and fairness in the way this investigation was approached. One reason the report is flawed is because it makes selective use of evidence - to the point of not even mentioning other relevant and more complete evidence. This is clear in what the report says and does not say about why Administrator Doan was "distracted" going into the Jnauary 26th meeting.

In her testimony to the OSC investigators, Administrator Doan explained in detail why other important issues were on her mind when she went into this "brown bag" lunch meeting for GSA presidential appointees - a meeting arranged and organized not by her but by a member of her staff. Aside from her continuing obligation to deal with the usual significant issues attendant to running the GSA, Administrator Doan, at that time, also had to deal with other important and time-consuming issues, including the preparation of a response to a document production demand from the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee. This document demand was a first for Administrator Doan and her staff and it was only part of the fall-out from a severely damaging - and in key respects inaccurate - news report published just a week earlier.

The subject matter of the presentation slides - the 2006 election losses experienced by Republicans - was old news. It is understandable how Administrator Doan - and perhaps others attending - would "tune out" relatively quickly - and almost certainly before the late-in-the-presentation slides which have received greatest attention and criticism. Under these circumatances, it is not surprising that Administrator Doan would do something she normally would not do or tolerate at a meeting - that is, turn at least some of her attention to her Blackberry e-mail. Adminstrator Doan's testimony in this regard is not even mentioned in the OSC report.

As to the e-mail volume itself, the OSC report also fails to mention other significant evidence. Administrator Doan provided the OSC investigators with records demonstrating that she had received approximately 220 e-mails in the forty-eight hours prior to the meeting. A backlog of this magnitude would provide ample material for reading during an uninteresting meeting. Some discussion - certainly some mention - of this evidence should have been included for objective, impartial, and fair consideration. The report fails to mention other information provided to OSC investigators which could explain that the volume of e-mails currently available from the January 26th time frame may be understated. That information included the the possibility of some level of system failure which may have eliminated some GSA e-mail records and personal e-mail account features which may have eliminated some personal e-mails depending on how they were filed or temporarily stored.

Our objection to the OSC report is not limited to these issues. We will address others in detail as well in our response on Administrator Doan's behalf later this week.

Finally, it is important to respond to your comment about our request to have the report withdrawn. We did not ask that the report be withdrawn solely because of the leaks, but because these actions, taken in conjunction with the flawed report, evidence a serious lack of objectivity, impartiality, and fairness in the way the investigation was undertaken. We fully expected the public release of the report to be released at some point. For the OSC to have leaked a draft (not provided to Administrator Doan) and then a copy of the final before she has had any opportunity to respond, however, appears to be a malicious and calculated attempt to cause her maximum damage. That is truly outrageous.

Thank you for your consideration of this additional information.

There are always at least two sides to every story. I can only imagine how frustrating it must be sometimes to see a story out there... and it can be difficult to maintain control of it.

Our goal always is to be fair.

Doan often doesn't help herself, but I'm not sure there isn't a rush to judgment too. There are always at least two sides to every story, and I don't think we captured the nuisance of this complex -- and important -- story.

To be honest, I'm not sure the buzz was entirely fair. I'm not sure we fully captured both sides of the story.

We'll try and do better... and not jump on any bandwagons.

Posted by Christopher Dorobek on May 29, 2007 at 12:16 PM

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