- The Washington Times - Thursday, May 1, 2008

The embattled head of the General Services Administration, targeted by Democrats on Capitol Hill, the Inspector General’s Office at GSA and the U.S. Office of Special Counsel for suspected political partisanship and her handling of contracts, resigned yesterday at the request of the White House.

Administrator Lurita Alexis Doan’s resignation was effective immediately. David L. Bibb, the agency’s deputy administrator, will serve as acting administrator until a new agency chief is named.

“It has been a great privilege to serve our nation and a great president,” Mrs. Doan said in a statement released by the agency.

White House spokeswoman Dana Perino said she could confirm Mrs. Doan’s resignation but would not comment on whether she was forced out.

“While serving as the administrator she worked very hard to respond effectively during the times of emergency,” Mrs. Perino said. “She also worked to make sure that all of the numerous buildings in the federal government are as energy-efficient as possible. And the president is grateful for her service and wishes her the best.”

GSA, the government’s acquisitions and property management agency, awards nearly $70 billion in contracts annually.

During raucous House committee hearings last year, Mrs. Doan was accused of conducting partisan politics on the job, although defended by Republicans who said critics were wasting the government’s time and resources.

During one three-hour slugfest, Rep. Henry A. Waxman, California Democrat and chairman of the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, said a staff investigation found that Mrs. Doan asked GSA political appointees at a January meeting how they “could help” Republican candidates.

“As a result of the committee’s investigation and hearing, we determined — conclusively in my opinion — that Ms. Doan solicited her employees at GSA to engage in partisan political activity on government property, a clear violation of the Hatch Act,” he said.

Mr. Waxman, citing an OSC investigation, also questioned whether Mrs. Doan had sought to “intimidate and retaliate against federal employees who cooperated with the committee’s investigation.”

Although Mrs. Doan vigorously and repeatedly denied retaliating against anyone, Mr. Waxman said, she “didn’t just disparage the employees” but told them they would not receive promotions, bonuses or special awards “until extensive rehabilitation of their performance occurs.” Mr. Waxman urged her to resign.

Rep. Thomas M. Davis III of Virginia, the committee’s ranking Republican, said there was “zero evidence” of misconduct by Mrs. Doan and called the hearing a “gross misuse” of committee resources, saying its premise was an “unprofessional and seemingly preordained” report from OSC.

“It is a farce premised on a sham,” he said.

Mrs. Doan was accused in the OSC report of engaging in partisan politics during a Jan. 26 PowerPoint presentation by White House political aide Scott Jennings to 30 GSA political appointees on the 2006 midterm elections and prospects for the 2008 elections. The report, citing unidentified officials, said Mrs. Doan asked during the presentation, “How can we help our candidates?”

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