And the January lunch, although almost undeniably inappropriate, was not planned or approved by Doan and came months after one election and years before another.
If you think of Washington, DC as an ocean, then you must understand that the great political storms blow across the surface, while the civil service, their contractors, and the press which covers them, inhabit the abyssal sea, far below the storm.
If you want to use federal contracts to make politicians in marginal districts look good, you have to plan months in advance. You have to know which contractors are located in which districts, and of those, which have the best connections to the politicians in question. In order to have contracts in place to puff vulnerable politicians in time to affect the election, you have to plan months in advance. The same publication which has a detailed understanding of software life-cycle management, and why advanced planning is essential to good IT management, seems to have failed to understand why a political briefing for the GSA had to be held in January 2006 if it was to use government contracting to affect the 2008 election. It is simply impossible to come up with any other reason for such a meeting.
Matthew Weigelt has a good summary of the day’s proceedings, my favorite quote - “These meetings grew out of a recognized need to do team-building with GSA’s noncareer employees,” Doan said. As one of the committee members asked, what sort of team were you building?
G. Martin Wagner has a good article explaining why all this matters, highly recommended for those not familiar with federal contracting. Even if you never intend to sell to the federal government, this affects you as a citizen.