Thursday, March 29, 2007

Sun Microsystems, Doan, and the Waxman Committee

The Washington Post

The five-hour hearing also focused on Doan's involvement last year in a contract dispute with Sun Microsystems, a technology firm that GSA auditors allege had overcharged the government.

Waxman's committee heard testimony from Sen. Charles E. Grassley (R-Iowa), who has also been examining the Sun deal.

Grassley testified that his investigators found evidence that Doan and her senior aides urged the agency's contracting staff to renew the contract, despite questions about alleged fraud and overcharging.

By August last year, three contracting officers had balked at renewing Sun's contract with the GSA.

Grassley said that despite "repeated warnings" to senior GSA officials in 2006 about the contract, GSA renewed the contract with Doan's blessing and "with no conditions, strings, or precautions regarding the alleged fraud."

Doan said she had an obligation to keep a close eye on the Sun contract and did nothing wrong. She said she did not "even know" the contract officials involved in negotiations. She said she urged a solution to a negotiation impasse with an important government contractor but did not intervene.

So far Sun Microsystems has issued no statement on the controversy. This is typical of federal contractors in these sorts of disputes, keep your head down and let the politicians slug it out. I think they are well advised, it may not be edifying, but it works.

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