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Posts Tagged ‘OFPP

DorobekInsider: Safavian indicted — again

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Not sure how I missed this one, but… GovExec reports that David Safavian, the former OFPP administrator and the GSA chief of staff, was re-indicted.

Former procurement chief indicted again

A former top Bush administration procurement official faces a fresh set of charges for allegedly lying to federal officials and obstructing an investigation into his relationship with convicted lobbyist Jack Abramoff.

The Justice Department re-indicted David Safavian, the former chief of staff for the General Services Administration and ex-administrator of the Office of Federal Procurement Policy at the Office of Management and Budget, on four counts of making false statements and one count of obstructing justice. Two of the false statement charges are new, while the other three counts date back to his original 2005 indictment.

A jury convicted Safavian in June 2006 on charges of making false statements to Senate investigators, a GSA ethics official and the agency’s inspector general, and of obstructing an investigation. He was cleared on a fifth charge of obstructing an investigation by the Senate Indian Affairs Committee.

Continue reading here.

Written by cdorobek

October 11, 2008 at 10:48 AM

Posted in GSA, oversight

Tagged with , , Denett’s Interior connection

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We’ve all been watching the case of the Interior Department’s Minerals Management Service. (More here.) The Interior Department’s inspector general last week found that the government officials in charge of collecting billions of dollars worth of royalties from oil and gas companies accepted gifts, steered contracts to favored clients and engaged in drug use and illicit sex with employees of the energy firms, federal investigators.

Three interesting tidbits here.

One, as I read in Federal Times, is the small world connection. Former OFPP Administrator Paul Denett’s wife, Ludy Denett, is the former associate director of Interior’s Minerals Revenue Management agency, a component of MMS.

A report by the Interior Department’s inspector general’s office describes wrongdoing by a dozen current and former employees of Interior’s Minerals Management Service (MMS), an agency that collects royalties from oil and gas projects on federal lands. The two highest-ranking employees named in the investigation are Lucy Denett, the former associate director of the Minerals Revenue Management agency, a component of MMS; and Gregory Smith, the former director of the Minerals Revenue Management’s royalty-in-kind program, which collects royalties in the form of oil and gas rather than cash…

Denett allegedly steered two contracts for technical advisory services to Jimmy Mayberry, a former Senior Executive Service employee at the agency, after he retired in 2002. The contracts totaled about $1.1 million over five years. Denett is married to Paul Denett, a longtime federal procurement executive who recently stepped down as the Office of Management and Budget’s head of federal procurement policy.

It’s important to remember that these are allegations right now. There almost always is a rush to judge — and the facts also evolve over time.

Secondly, I’m always interested in how agencies handle these kinds of high-profile content. For the Interior Department’s IG office, it is just like any other document and, therefore, it can be difficult to find. I, of course, did a Google search of Interior Department IG, found the IG’s main page, and then had to look under 2008 reports. The report, is listed as “[C-EV-MMS-0001-2008] Minerals Management Service Royalty-In-Kind Oil Sales Process.” (Sexy title, hmm?) From there, there is a link to a PDF and text file.

To the Interior’s (partial) credit, I went back to the Interior Department’s home page and they have put Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne’s response to the case, including posting it as a audio podcast, and they also have posted a link to the IG reports, although not the specific report.

Finally, I always find it interesting how people react to these kinds of incidents. Harvard Prof. Steve Kelman has been very conerned about the culture of hyper-oversight. I have shared that concern mostly because of the impact that the hyper-oversight has on how people do their jobs. The oversight of the oversight has led to a hyper-risk adverse culture in government — we simply don’t tolerate mistakes.

Over on Steve Kelman’s blog, The Lecturn, somebody calling themselves “Lisa Simpson” made this comment:

Prof. Kelman, I have been thinking a lot about the climate of fear that you hope doesn’t descend on the contracting world and was so happy to read about Paul Denett’s wife at MMS — they showed us all how to get down, and operate without fear. Way to go MMS! PARTY! PARTY!

It’s important to be clear — illeagal activities are… well, they’re illegal. And if people do illegal things, they ought to be prosecuted. There is a difference between illegal activities and what is often simply a difference of opinion about how to handle issues. (I’d point to the SunMicrosystems schedule contract issue as a case in point.)

In the end, most people do what they are supposed to do and we need to trust them — and go after those who don’t. The question is what is the proper role of oversight — and how can oversight actually help get the job done. To me right now, it seems that oversight often gets in the way of getting the job done.

Written by cdorobek

September 22, 2008 at 9:25 AM

Posted in oversight

Tagged with , , , , Where did Robert Burton go?

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Last month over on the other blog, there was video evidence that Robert Burton retired as the deputy administrator of the Office of Federal Procurement Policy.

After taking some time off this summer, Burton has a new gig as an attorney at DC’s Venable law firm.

Stay tuned. We hear an “official” press release is in the works… and you may even hear him around town sometime soon.

Written by cdorobek

September 3, 2008 at 12:39 PM

Posted in Circuit, Whose In and Whose Out

Tagged with , ,