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FCW Insider: Live blogging from the Williams hearing... Part two


It is feeling a bit like deja vu all over again, just like yesterday... we're all here in place waiting for the confirmation hearing for Jim Williams to be GSA administrator. The difference is that we hear there are senators in the building -- at least two of them, anyway.

We have the opening statement of Sen. Joseph Lieberman (I-Conn.). The money quote:

"Ms. Doan was apparently asked to resign by the administration after sparking Congressional and other investigations over allegations that she used her office to promote partisan politics, tried to reduce the crucial oversight role of the agency's Inspector General, and improperly interfered with the contracting process. With only five months left in this administration, it would be up to Mr. Williams.…to provide the leadership needed to return stability to the agency, keep GSA on an even course in its crucial duty to spend American taxpayers money wisely, and also help ease the transition to a new administration, which is critically important to the safety and security of our nation."

12:05p.m. …The Senators are in and Lieberman is apologizing for the no show yesterday. And Tom Ridge, the first secretary of the Homeland Security Department, is speaking in favor of Williams. And there is some banter about the postponed hearing:

Sen. John Warner (R-Va.): If he understands how this place operates, we need him up here

Ridge: We understand how it operates -- there is no rime or reason.

Lieberman: … If you're not confused, you don't understand the situation.

12:19 p.m. … Lieberman notes that, if confirmed, Williams would be the fifth GSA administrator in less than eight years "following the troubled tenure of Lurita Doan." And, if confirmed, Williams would be the first civil servant selected to serve as GSA administrator.

12:38 p.m. … It doesn't take much time -- the first round of questions and Lieberman goes right to Sun. "Only after Sun made concessions…that's the one that was seen as a good deal for government." Williams says he believes that the eventual contract was a good deal for government… prior to my coming there, they had negotiated 90 percent of the issues. That took place a year to a year and a half before I got there.

12:49 p.m. … Sen. Collins picks up on the Sun contract questions.

12:54 p.m. … It seems like we are moving off Sun and focusing on some project in Calais, Maine port of entry with Canada. Apparently construction has been delayed because GSA did not award the construction contract and Collins seems to be implying that it has been GSA's fault.

12:57 p.m. … Collins has now moved to the temporary port of entry in Van Buren, Maine, which, she says, is not winterized.

1:01 p.m. … Lieberman and back to Sun... Lieberman: As a gereral rule, what weight should the GSA administrator give to a vendor's past behavior in assessing the future, for example, if they did something wrong before, should that be part of the assessment in a new contract. Williams: That's the job of the contracting officer. And he stressed, "If [a company has] done something to cheat the taxpayer, go after them." Williams noted that there was talk that if GSA awarded a contract to Sun, it gave the government leverage because we could deduct money from payments.

1:04 p.m. … Lieberman moves on to DHS's headquarters facilities -- or lack of a headqua ters -- and GSA's role in that.

1:08 p.m. … Lieberman asks about the I relationship. Williams says he believes in working collaboratively. "I would want to work closely with Brian and his staff."

1:10 p.m. … Collins turns... and we go back to buildings.

1:13 p.m. …Collins turns to management of inter-agency contracts. Collins asks if we need a better system
Yes we do, the proliferation today is contributing to inefficiencies in our procurement system… Acquisition people is one of the most scarce resources we have right now… I think inter-agency contracts can be a good thing... They should be utilizing people across the federal government as much as we can… It's not good for the private sector. It's not good for small business…Let GSA create those channels to the market.

1:15 p.m. … Lieberman... Bring this to mark-up next Wednesday, so they are closing the record at the end of the day.

1:16 p.m. … That's all folks. They hope to vote next Wednesday.

Posted by Christopher J. Dorobek on Jul 25, 2008 at 12:17 PM


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