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Policy Letter

Acquisition Panel cuts off testimony about problems with the government’s buying system

Ms. Laura Auletta, DFO

c/o General Services Administration

1800 F Street, N.W., Room 4006

Washington, D.C. 20405

Dear Ms. Auletta:

On January 31, 2005, the Project On Government Oversight (POGO) issued a press release stating that the Acquisition Advisory Panel (Panel) is "dominated by contractor advocates – both inside and outside government." The Panel's August 18th meeting affirmed POGO's criticism of the independence of some Panel members.

During the Q & A session following the testimony of GSA's Director of the Management Services Center Geraldine Watson, Panel member Roger Waldron, Director, Acquisition Management Center, GSA, intercepted a direct question to the witness in order to cite improvements to the schedule system to clarify the record. In so doing, Mr. Waldron interrupted, and essentially ended, Ms. Watson's insightful testimony, which was providing candid answers about genuine concerns with how the schedule system operates. Professor Joshua Schwartz aptly responded, stating that the questions being asked were germane to the Panel's mission.

That exchange made me question whether all Panel members are conducting a truly independent review of the federal contracting system. The Panel's mission has the potential to improve the way the government buys goods and services. I hope that mission is not taking a back seat to protecting one's contracting legacy or steering the Panel from investigating contracting concerns and suggesting fixes to critical faults in the procurement system.

I urge Panel members to recuse or disqualify themselves from any matter with which the member has a real or perceived conflict of interest, the member cannot make an independent judgment, or the member is so embedded that his or her views will prevent the Panel from fulfilling its mission to "review and recommend any necessary changes to acquisition laws and regulations." Integrity in government is essential to the public trust.


Scott H. Amey

General Counsel