The $56B Woman: Ethics Questions Surround Senior Bush Official - KTRE.com | Lufkin and Nacogdoches, Texas

02/12/07 - Washington

The $56B Woman: Ethics Questions Surround Senior Bush Official

Lurita Doan, the Bush-appointed chief of the General Services Administration, is facing allegations of improper and illegal behavior and has been dubbed one of the administration's most corrupt officials by a watchdog group. (Photo courtesy ABCNews.com) Lurita Doan, the Bush-appointed chief of the General Services Administration, is facing allegations of improper and illegal behavior and has been dubbed one of the administration's most corrupt officials by a watchdog group. (Photo courtesy ABCNews.com)
by Brian Ross, ABC News

Another senior administration official is under the gun for irregular behavior in office.

Multiple investigations are digging into the Bush-appointed chief of the General Services Administration, probing allegations of improper and illegal behavior. And a Washington, D.C. watchdog group has named her one of the administration's most corrupt officials.

The woman accused is Lurita Doan, a big-time GOP supporter who was picked to head the GSA last April. Her agency spends over $56 billion a year on paper clips, office space, car fleets and other necessities for federal agencies. 

Since 2000, Doan and her husband have donated over $210,000 to Republican candidates and groups. She was invited to speak before the 2004 Republican National Convention.

Much of the scrutiny Doan is receiving stems from a January Washington Post report that she improperly awarded a no-bid contract to a personal friend of hers -- even signing the contract herself.  Because only GSA contracting officers are legally allowed to sign contracts, Doan's action may be illegal, an official explained to the Post.

Congress and GSA's own internal watchdog are digging into that one.  The Justice Department may also be probing the deal, according to the Post.  Doan has admitted the mistake and said that she thought she was following proper procedures at the time.

Then there's her unusual intervention on behalf of five major government contractors. Last September, KPMG, Ernst and Young, BearingPoint Inc. and two other firms, while not admitting liability, paid over $66 million to settle claims they had cheated the government.  GSA officials were weighing whether or not the companies should be barred from doing further business with the government.

Doan stepped between her own employees and the firms and insisted the process be halted -- "until cooler heads can prevail," she wrote in an e-mail to her subordinates.

That caught the eye of House Oversight Committee Chairman Henry A. Waxman, D-Calif., who's pushing to learn more about her action.

Together, the rotten contract and unusual intervention won Doan a spot on the list of the 25 Most Corrupt Administration Officials released this week by the left-leaning watchdog group, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW).

A New Orleans native, Doan started her own government contracting firm in 1990, working for defense and homeland security operations.

Most of Doan's early contracts were awarded without competition, primarily through set-aside programs meant to aid businesses owned by women or minorities or located in disadvantaged areas, "Government Executive" magazine reported in February.  Doan told the magazine her company did not rely on those designations when winning contracts.

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Posted by R. Smith, KTRE-TV

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