How To Cut The Federal Budget at a Government Agency by Lurita Alexis Doan

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The Honorable

Lurita Alexis Doan

Chief Executive

General Services Administration Why is Congressman Waxman so unhappy with Lurita Alexis Doan, head of GSA?

Is it contracts, campaignings, competence?

Your Business Blogger recently sat down with Lurita Doan. She was really quite at home with the intense blood sport that passes for politics. (She’s from Louisiana.) (And works academia.) We discussed her management style and her goals in government.

Doan came to Your Nation’s Capital to save money in the giant GSA. And to make a difference in the business of government. Rob Bluey reminds us in TownHall.com that,

“The agency oversees nearly $66 billion in federal spending — more than a quarter of the government’s procurement dollars. It has 12,300 employees who are spread out in offices around the country.

So what do GSA employees do with all that money? The GSA is the world’s largest landlord with more than 8,300 government-owned or leased buildings. It is responsible for a fleet of 170,000 vehicles, making it the world’s largest purchaser of new cars. The computer infrastructure it oversees is valued at more than $100 million. The agency is the world’s largest credit card service, and believe it or not, the world’s largest conservator of art.”

mr_smith_comes_to_washingon_jimmie_stewart.jpg

Jimmie Stewart as

Jefferson Smith in Frank Capra’s

1939 film classic

Mr. Smith Goes to WashingtonLurita Doan came to Washington, DC to serve out of passion for her country. But unlike Jimmie Stewart in Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, Mrs. Doan came with a plan.

Lurita Doan placed herself in the Waxman cross-hairs by breaking rice bowls in the bowels of government.

So Chairman Waxman takes a day off from surrendering to the jihadists in Iraq to hold hearings. He gets a three-fer:

1) Ignore the War on Islamofascists

2) Berate a cost cutting manager, and

3) Smear Karl Rove

Ignore, Berate, Smear. Not a bad day for Democrats.

Following is Doan’s memo on How to Cut the Federal Budget at a Government Agency.

Your Business Blogger could have used such a guideline during my tour of duty in government and my feeble attempts to rein in costs to save tax payer dollars (the goal of most Republicans).

The government, the country needs more Lurita Doans. And fewer Henry Waxmans.

HOW TO CUT THE FEDERAL BUDGET AT A GOVERNMENT AGENCY

BASIC GROUND RULES

1. Make a decision not to cut salaries or benefits (PC&B) if a t all possible. The agency should make the commitment to value the skill sets and labor of its employees as its most valuable resource. This kind of cut should be considered only as a last measure, after all other options are exhausted and that commitment and understanding must be shared with the Agency’s employees, so that they know their personal lives are not at risk. This allows employees to focus on the true goal which is to cut the budget thereby improving efficiency and value to the American taxpayer.

2. Budget cuts should be employee driven in order to release the entrepreneurial energies of the employees who will find better ways to do the same things.

3. Each office within the Agency is accountable for achieving the desired cuts. At GSA, we proposed a 9% cut, but targeted non-performing programs.

4. Additional targets were : unnecessary travel, overseas travel except as it directly related to job performance, promotions above GS-15, hiring of GS-15 or higher, volume travel to conferences—often times limiting the number of attendees at conferences, consolidated purchasing[strategic sourcing]/

5. Each office and each employee at GSA was told that there were “no sacred cows.”

6. Each office was given a timeline / timeframe in which to provide the CFO the targeted cuts.

7. The Budget Process at GSA was collaborative, but by no means consensus driven.

8. I asked that we base the budget cuts on non-performing programs…


…Ideally, each office was to identify the non-performing programs it would cut, or trim back to achieve the desired budget cuts. However, I also let all office heads know that if the Office within GSA could not identify any specific non-performing or poorly performing programs, then the CFO and I would make the decision.

STEP – BY – STEP.

9. Print out the budget detail for the individual offices and deliver to the Office Head. In addition, break out all departments under the office and identify its portion of the budget, both the actual dollars and categories, as well as what percentage of the Office budget it comprises as well as what percentage of the Agency budget it comprises. [I mainly did this because I wanted each division to understand that it was part of a larger whole, regardless of how small its budget was, and at the same time, for the larger departments, for them to understand that the Agency was counting on them to use the funding wisely since others clearly had to do without in order for them to be the recipients of the larger amounts of funding).

10. I asked that all divisions identify all government contractors performing work/projects for GSA. That list was provided to all office heads to assist them in identifying non-performing programs.

11. Offices should rank the performance of all contractor programs. My thought was that the lowest, most poorly performing program(s) would be cut.

12. If the contractor had not received a performance rating, then at least the Contracting Officer and the Program Manager knew that such a performance evaluation process needed to be instituted.

13. In one or two cases, where there seemed to be differing opinions of whether there was utility on the work of a contractor or value in a specific project, employees utilizing the program were queried and the contractor were asked to come in and show that there was some utility to their effort. If they were unable to provide a product/service with a sufficient rating level, or a substantial indication of product achievement, then the program would be considered non-performing and eligible for the chopping block.

14. The goal was to identify more programs / funding than that which was required to allow for agency flexibility and also to form the basic for a multi-year effort of budget cutting. In all, at GSA, we identified approximately $2.832Billion in proposed cuts, of which we took approximately 37% to implement, but the remaining programs form the basis of the next year’s proposed cuts. However, in the next year there may be new programs identified.

MISCELLANEOUS

15. Two divisions, rather than having cuts, were identified as having been starved of resources that potentially jeopardized successfully achieving their departmental goals. These were not required to have cuts, and additional funding was planned for upcoming year.

16. Administrator led by example by returning 37% of the Administrator’s discretionary budget back to the Working Capital Fund to be used for the next fiscal year.

17. Strategic Sourcing was utilized to cut overhead costs: Consolidating the leasing of all Agency photocopiers, consolidating outside vendor printing costs.

18. Strategic Sourcing was utilized in IT support and GSA decided to consolidate over 100 contracts providing different services and goods into a single, agency wide support contract awarded to a Service-disabled veteran, 8(a) disadvantaged business company.

19. Consolidating transportation costs among senior management. For example, rather than taking taxis or driving, paying parking ,etc and billing to agency for travel around metro DC area, all senior management has access to Administrator’s driver and vehicle for transportation since this is a fixed Agency cost, paid from Administrator’s budget.

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3 Responses

  1. Tom O'Connor says:

    You seem to omit the minor detail that Ms. Doan, however worthy some of her goals for GSA may be, is alleged to have engaged in illegal behavior in violation of the Hatch Act by engaging in political campaigning using taxpayer funds and public property. The GSA’s own Inspector General also concluded that she violated government ethical regulations by granting a friend a $20,000 no-bid contracts. It would be nice if you presented these facts when impugning the motives of Congressman Waxman. If you watched the proceedings where she was questioned under oath by Congress, and conveniently forgot, contrary to the accounts of 6 GSA staffers, that she instructed employees to engage in campaigning for Republican candidates, maybe you would present all the relevant facts.

  2. Jack Yoest says:

    Tom, You are correct that a number of details are missing from this very short post — and more detail will follow from my interview with Doan.

    The GSA IG, as seen from the Waxman hearing, was not quite the unbiased inspector general we might expect. She cut his budget (with good reason) — and like any bureaucrat he struck back. Unfortunately, his motiviations must be questioned. The $20K was a not permitted under procurment rules and the action/action never completed. That Doan contract was to improve the GSA diversity grade — which had been a “F” and she wanted it done fast.

    Sometimes, there is just no pleasing liberals. She moves fast on diversity — the IG hammers her…she moves slow on diversity and another agency will hammer her.

    This is a case study on multiple points of accountabiliy — if Doan erred at all, it was attempting to do the right thing. A tricky process to be sure — but Doan does not pretent to be a politician — she came to town to help the GSA improve the horrific $4.5 billion BILLION deficit. And the complaint is over an attempt to do good over a $20k contract? Goodness.

    She is a manager of action.

    Waxman’s motives are clear and he has so stated — he is a subpoena machine with the end game of getting Rove. Doan is an intermediate step in a witch hunt as with Gonzales.

    I did watch the proceedings and what is left out of press accounts (for which you can be forgiven for not knowing) is that 6 remembered what Doan is accused of saying — not reported is that some 29 attendees did not remember what Doan is supposed to have said. There is a conflict of memories.

    There is some question that the 6 might have some axes to grind to get back at Doan for budget cuts.

    But it is clear that the White House and Doan are in compliance with the Hatch Act.

    The Hatch Act as you know, has three main restrictions, The Federal Employee cannot:

    A) Be a political candidate;

    B) Fundraise for a political campaign

    C) Allow their names to be used in political campaigns

    The White House is correct in that no laws were broken.

    Let us pray that more seansoned managers of Lurita Doan’s caliber come to Your Nation’s Capital and help it with a business sense.

    Waxman will scare off any experienced manager from joining public service.

    Thank you for commenting

  3. Tom O'Connor says:

    Jack, Thank you for your quick and detailed response.

    Although I

    applaud Ms Doan’s efforts to make the federal govt.

    efficient, I do have 2 further comments. First, I

    find it a bit more than suspicious that rather than

    merely denying that she said anything she threw up her

    arms with the “I don’t recall” response. The subject

    of the slides clearly hd a goal of campaigning

    in violation of the Hatch Act. I realize I can’t get

    into Ms. Doan’s mind to question her motives, but a

    less subjective topic is your characterization of the

    Hatch Act. What you omit is that the Hatch Act also

    prohibits engaging in political activity while on duty

    using government offices. If, as has been widely

    reported, Ms. Doan instructed employees to help

    Republican candidats get elected, that is clearly

    prohibited. I don’t think it is a witch hunt against

    Ms. Doan to ask her about this sort of presentation when 6 employees

    consistently state she made such a statement. To

    ignore that would encourage unlawful activity and be a

    breach of taxpayer’s trust, however lauditory Ms.

    Doan’s goal of reforming the GSA may be. I would say

    that if a Democrat engaged in similar activity.

    Whatever is going on with the Gonzalez saga, I believe

    that Ms. Doan’s activities need to be investigated.

    Thank you once again.

    Tom

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