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GSA chief fights inspector general over audits.

GSA Administrator Lurita Doan, who calls herself the contractors' "champion," is trying to cut back audits by the agency's inspector general, the Washington Post reported.

Citing leaked internal documents from the IG's office, the newspaper said Doan has proposed cutting the audit budget request by $5 million. The IG's semiannual report says its budget was $48.3 million in fiscal 2006.

Doan told Inspector General Brian Miller his audit program has "gone too far and is eroding the health of the organization" and has "terrorized" regional offices, according to notes obtained by the Post.

Miller has aggressively pursued pre-award audits to make sure contractors were giving the government their "most favored customer" prices, as required under GSA schedule contracts. In his Oct. 31 semiannual report, Miller said GSA management had accepted all his recommendations regarding pricing. He said the pre-award audits have saved more than $528 million in the past year.

In a letter to Doan, Iowa Sen. Charles Grassley, the Republican chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, said he understood she wanted to eliminate about half of the inspector general's proposed audits for 2007. He said the cutbacks amount to "essentially removing the IG's independence."

The inspector general's office is established by law as an independent investigator. An agency head cannot interfere in its investigations.

A GSA spokesman said Doan recognizes the IG's independence and is only "trying to reduce wasteful spending." The spokesman denied she had referred to IG investigators as terrorists.

In her 2006 annual report, Doan said "there is undue pressure and intimidation from the OIG and it is vital that we work together to find a balance between proper and independent oversight without intimidating our work force. This will prove to be our most serious challenge."

The IG has devoted considerable attention to regional offices after several of them were found to be violating procurement laws and regulations. Congress mandated closer scrutiny of the regional operations.

Doan, founder of a federal IT contracting firm, took office as GSA administrator in May. The next week she told a contractors' forum, "This administrator intends to be your champion." (SAA, 6/16)
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Publication:Set-Aside Alert
Date:Dec 8, 2006
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