Lawmakers criticize ‘shocking abuse of authority’ in GSA contracting

Lawmakers are calling on the General Services Administration to strengthen its contracting oversight and take action against officials who pressured subordinates to accept contracts with higher-than-necessary prices and unfavorable terms.

The contracting issue came to light Tuesday in an inspector general’s report that detailed how directors for the agency’s technology-acquisition division improperly intervened when contracting personnel determined that certain proposals were not in taxpayers’ best interests.


Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) (J.Scott Applewhite/AP)

“This report details a shocking abuse of authority by a senior government official — at a potentially significant cost to taxpayers,” said Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.), chairman of the subcommittee on contracting oversight. “The General Services Administration must ensure that anyone found to have aided in these abuses is held fully accountable.”

Sen. Tom Coburn, ranking member of the Senate committee that oversees GSA, said the agency should be doing “everything possible – with every contract – to ensure that the award process is free from interference, particularly when the interference is designed to benefit contractors at the expense of taxpayers.”

The deals in question involved GSA’s top three technology contracts, worth $900 million for three firms.

The GSA has said it placed the individual responsible for the contracting interference on administrative leave, and it has promised to implement the inspector general’s recommendations.

For more federal news, visit The Federal Eye, The Fed Page and Post Politics. To connect with Josh Hicks, follow his Twitter feed, friend his Facebook page or e-mail josh.hicks@washpost.comE-mail federalworker@washpost.com with news tips and other suggestions.

Josh Hicks covers the federal government and anchors the Federal Eye blog. He reported for newspapers in the Detroit and Seattle suburbs before joining the Post as a contributor to Glenn Kessler’s Fact Checker blog in 2011.
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