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GSA chief's critics ratchet up the pressure.

Two Democratic senators and the GSA inspector general turned up the heat on embattled GSA Administrator Lurita Doan.

Sens. Byron Dorgan of North Dakota and Ron Wyden of Oregon said Doan should resign or be fired for what they called "multiple ethical lapses."

GSA's IG said Doan may have violated ethics and procurement regulations when she tried to give a $20,000 sole-source contract to a friend. "Doan's conduct in this matter may indicate possible violations of federal ethics regulations for failing to act impartially and creating the appearance of providing preferential treatment," the IG report says. "Her conduct also may indicate possible violations of federal procurement regulations requiring competition in the award of contracts."

Doan has acknowledged she made a mistake in steering the contract to her friend's public relations firm and pointed out that the contract was canceled with no money changing hands.

The senators focused on a briefing for GSA political appointees by an aide to White House political strategist Karl Rove. The January 26 briefing included a discussion of Democratic members of Congress whom Republicans had targeted for defeat in the 2008 election.

Several participants told congressional investigators that Doan asked how GSA could help "our candidates." Doan has testified that she does not recall saying that and remembers little about the briefing.

The Office of Special Counsel, which investigates allegations of improper political activity by federal officials, has broadened its inquiry into the GSA briefing to include similar sessions held at other agencies. The White House has acknowledged that about 20 such briefings took place, the Washington Post reported.

California Democrat Henry Waxman, chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, has asked agencies to provide details about any political briefings that were held in government buildings during working hours. The Hatch Act generally prohibits federal employees from engaging in partisan political activity on the job.

Sen. Wyden also cited allegations that Doan was "riding roughshod over career professionals" to award a contract to Sun Microsystems while the company was under investigation for overcharging the government. Three contracting officers declined to award the contract. A fourth one, appointed after Doan expressed interest in the matter, signed off on the deal.

Doan has defended the Sun contract as a good one for the tax-payers. (SAA, 4/6)

"In less than a year, Ms. Doan has shredded her own credibility," Wyden said at a Capitol Hill news conference April 23. "Good government and accountability are no-where to be found at the General Services Administration under Ms. Doan's tenure. It's time for her to go."

The White House has not issued any statement supporting Doan, but she told Federal Computer Week she does not intend to quit.

Doan, who founded an IT company, took office as GSA administrator last year. Testifying March 28 before the Oversight and Government Reform Committee, she said critics within thebureaucracy have targeted her because of her determination to impose fiscal discipline on the agency.
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Publication:Set-Aside Alert
Date:May 4, 2007
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