- The Washington Times - Tuesday, October 7, 2014

The Department of Veterans Affairs on Monday proposed firing a high-ranking contracting official involved in a procurement scandal a week after an investigation found she abused her position to try to aid a prominent federal contacting firm.

The VA’s Office of Inspector General concluded that Susan Taylor, deputy chief procurement officer at the Veterans Health Administration, had “continually lied” about her attempts to intercede on behalf of reverse auction contractor FedBid, going to battle against another VA official who sought to put a moratorium on reverse auctions because of cost concerns and complaints from suppliers in 2012.

Ms. Taylor leaked nonpublic information, used her job title to get a refund on a private vacation and sought to block investigators probing FedBid, according to the IG report.

The IG had referred Ms. Taylor’s case to prosecutors, but they declined to pursue criminal charges against her, leaving it up to the VA to mete out its own discipline.

The VA announcement on Monday doesn’t mention Ms. Taylor by name, but refers to her former job title.

“The proposed removal of the DCPO underscores VA’s commitment to hold leaders accountable and get Veterans the care they need,” the VA statement read.

Rep. Jeff Miller, chairman of the House Committee on Veterans Affairs, cautioned that the VA’s decision wasn’t final.

“Because this is merely a proposed action, we need to reserve judgment on whether appropriate accountability has been achieved until a final decision on Susan Taylor’s employment has been reached,” Mr. Miller said in a statement.

“What I don’t want to see happen is for Taylor to retire, resign or find another government job outside of VA without consequence — a pattern that has been emerging in recent weeks.”

FedBid handles most of the federal government’s reverse auctions, and its board, employees and financiers include many prominent former government officials and business leaders. In reverse auctions, sellers bid instead of buyers.

Ms. Taylor and other top FedBid officials — several were recommended for disbarment — plotted to discredit the VA contracting official who had raised concerns about FedBid and its reverse auction business.

While she was under investigation at the VA, Ms. Taylor was slated to start a new job at the Department of Energy on Monday. But in the wake of the inspector general’s report, an official told The Washington Times last week that Ms. Taylor wouldn’t be working there.

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