Doan’s departure draws sharp reactions from stakeholders
For example, Robert Tobias, director of the public-sector executive education program at American University’s School of Public Affairs and director of the Institute for the Study of Public Policy Implementation, asserted that Doan’s departure will be a good thing for the GSA, as she had become a major distraction for the agency.
“My thought is that with her departure, GSA will be able to enhance its ability to serve as a central procurement office for the rest of the federal government,” Tobias told GovPro.com. “I think that so long as that cloud was hanging over GSA, it was hard for those who work at GSA to make the connections and provide the information that they needed to serve their customers. So I think her departure will be good for GSA.”
Is there anything that public purchasing administrators can learn from Doan’s tenure at the GSA?
“I think the central issue is whether or not those who provide that procurement service—particularly on a centralized basis—whether they are truly focused on the needs of their customers,” Tobias said. “I think it’s particularly difficult in a centralized environment, because everyone believes that their needs are unique, and so they have to be treated as though their needs are unique, and responded to on a unique basis. And I think that’s hard in a centralized purchasing environment.”
Larry Allen, president of the Coalition for Government Procurement, praised Doan for bringing “tremendous energy” to the job and for rebuilding relationships with federal customers.
“Although Doan’s energy was not always as precisely directed as it could have been, her intentions were generally good,” Allen said. “The coalition, however, believes the agency is in very capable hands with the well-respected [Acting Administrator] David Bibb in charge.”
Melanie Sloan, executive director of the watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW), offered much sharper rhetoric, asserting that Doan “should have been fired from her position over a year ago.”
“The fact that she was kept in a powerful office after blatantly violating the Hatch Act is just another example of this administration’s stunning tolerance of those who break the law,” Sloan said. “Hopefully, she is the first of many that will be held accountable for their conduct. But, having watched the Bush administration over the past seven years, we know better than to hold our breath.”
More than a year ago, CREW included Lurita Doan in its report “Criminals and Scoundrels: The 25 Most Corrupt Officials of the Bush Administration.”
U.S. Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, who has investigated the GSA’s multiple-award-schedule contract with Sun Microsystems as well as Doan’s feud with GSA Inspector General Brian Miller—the latter of which likely precipitated her demise at the agency—hinted that Doan’s departure might benefits U.S. taxpayers.
“The GSA is an integral component of the federal government’s ability to keep costs low for the American taxpayer,” Grassley said. “In my oversight of the GSA, including the Sun Microsystems contract, it appeared that the taxpayer was not the agency’s top concern. Instead, we found questionable actions, finger pointing and stonewalling. I hope that changes will now be made to ensure the taxpayer gets the best possible deal when GSA and other agencies negotiate contracts.”
For more, read “Doan forced to step down from GSA post.”