Doan requests Integrity Committee step in on Sun conflict

Lurita Doan, administrator for the General Services Administration, has asked the President's Council on Integrity and Efficiency to help sort out a conflict between GSA's inspector general and Sun Microsystems, saying the case is just one example of a disturbing trend.

The problem stems from the IG's concern that Sun has overcharged government customers by more than $25 million for its products. The IG said Sun has not cooperated with the investigation, failing to turn over certain documents to investigators despite requests from the IG.

In a letter to Kenneth Kaiser, chairman of the Integrity Committee and assistant director of the FBI's Inspection Division, Doan wrote that her concern extends beyond the immediate case to its broader implications.

The GSA administrator noted that it is not unusual for contractors to resist handing over documents to investigators, a situation that threatens to undermine the authority of GSA and its inspector general's office.

"I am concerned that the lack of cooperation that has been reported is not an isolated case but is reflective of a systemic issue for the GSA OIG throughout industry as well as with GSA employees," Doan wrote in the Sept. 7 letter.

"It is imperative, given our core mission, for GSA to have a fully capable, competent, independent and respected OIG, capable of gaining industry and GSA employee cooperation for investigations and audits," Doan wrote.

GSA is not the only concerned party. Even Sen. Charles Grassley (R-Iowa) stepped into the matter in recent months. He told Sun to mind the IG's information requests.

"Under the contract, Sun must open its books for inspection and provide all the information the IG needs to conduct the audit," Grassley said Tuesday. He doesn't expect the council will get involved because it has no jurisdiction.

In a separate letter to Grassley, Doan said she would not cancel GSA's contract with Sun as he requested, because she is unwilling to step on a contracting officer's toes.

"I believe they need greater flexibility to make good decisions to the benefit of American taxpayers," she wrote.

Doan added that it also would damage the procurement process and be unfair to contractors and customer agencies.

Sun had no comment. However, in a July statement, company officials said they had already assembled information in response to a GSA contracting officer's request and delivered more than 25,000 pages of documents to GSA.

Sun officials also said they did not believe the IG was objective and so opposed its role in the investigation. "The inspector general's office is on record as prejudging whether our current contract is a good deal for the taxpayer," Sun said.

In her letter, Doan ultimately wants the council to consult with industry groups and various GSA employees to determine the validity to Sun's perceived lack of cooperation. The administrator also asked the council for recommendations for GSA and the IG.

An FBI spokesman said the committee has received Doan's letter. The matter is pending, however, and the committee will not reveal if it does the review until a report is finished.

Matthew Weigelt writes for Federal Computer Week, an 1105 Government Information Group publication.

About the Author

Matthew Weigelt is a freelance journalist who writes about acquisition and procurement.

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