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The Government Man Discusses the GSA Scandal – Part Two

Well, I must admit that I took a bit of heat for my initial post on this subject. My general position stands although much more has surfaced in the last week and this gets uglier by the day. I doubt whether anyone initially expected this to go viral.

I’ll repeat in no uncertain terms that I do not condone reckless spending and inappropriate behavior at taxpayer expense. My record at GSA supports that. Check out my Dorobek Insider interview.

I will also repeat that this didn’t have to be a media and political circus. It’s no longer about the money because in the scheme of things this is a relatively minor scandal. It’s a bit of Parkinson’s Law. The dollars are in the range that people could actually relate to so you can pick it apart forever, one “Petit Beef Wellington” at a time. I didn’t see this kind of attention when someone played three card monte with nine billion US dollars on a plane to Iraq, or when the banking industry took a few trillion out of the pockets of Americans. It’s strictly about image and perception. The hearings have been grandstanding at its best, with accusations and character assaults. It’s been a frenzy, as if the fate of America is now correlated to whether events at a conference of one previously obscure government agency had been a party or an awards presentation. Lost in all of this is the good work GSA and its 12,000 employees have done for the taxpayer over the years.

The last I heard, in this country the jury doesn’t make its decisions after the prosecutor presents the case. The defense also gets a pop – that hasn’t happened and people who did no wrong are implicated by association. Come on guys – let’s move on. Make corrections like any business would do, take personnel actions as required, but fairly, and get back to serious business. Don’t let the judgment errors of a few feed the frenzy of political opportunism. The hearings reminded me of a squabbling family with each member out to save their own tail while the good son, in this case the IG, states his case for a higher allowance.

Well Mr. IG isn’t squeaky clean here either. The report – (18 months in the making!) – raises more questions than it answers with it’s innuendos and inflammatory tone. While it alleges improprieties, it is often vague about details of specific violations. As a former contracting officer I know that not all contracts are competitively bid as implied by the report. That is why there are GSA schedules – so that each procurement does not have to go through a lengthy bidding process. There are exceptions to many of the rules and the contracting officer has latitude with proper documentation. I’m not defending anyone here but let’s tell the whole story.

Let’s face some hard political facts here. GSA serves a business and political purpose and is not likely to go away. No legislator wants to see GSA disappear. It provides too many political jobs and delivers too much pork in the way of construction projects. Our legislators love to be photographed at GSA groundbreakings and dedications.

I think the American public is getting tired of hearing that this was an Obama issue, a Bush issue, Clinton, Reagan, whatever. The money itself is chump change – it’s all about political mudslinging and the scandal provides the perfect forum. I’m not making excuses for anyone but in the annals of government scandals or waste, this is a minor blip.

GSA has had good leadership over the last several decades and added considerable value for their clients and the public so don’t throw the baby out with the bath water.

Mr. Issa, Mr. Denham, Mr. Mica, Ms. Boxer and the others perpetuating this witch hunt; you’ve made your point and you’ve had your headlines. Let’s get to the business of correcting the problems (as Ms. Boxer eloquently stated), punish the correct people in the right manner, and move on. Maybe your next photo op will be at a GSA event in your district.


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