AP Exclusive: possible USAID bid rigging probed

Published on NewsOK Modified: January 24, 2013 at 10:47 pm •  Published: January 24, 2013
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There was no response to a message requesting comment, left on the home answering machine of a David Ostermeyer.

Gomer attorney David Schertler said in a statement Thursday that his client "did not violate any law. We understand that the Office of Inspector General for USAID conducted an investigation, in which Ms. Gomer cooperated completely, and we have been informed that the Department of Justice reviewed the matter and declined to initiate a criminal investigation. Ms. Gomer is an example of a dedicated and committed public servant who served as an excellent General Counsel for USAID and did nothing other than to further the best interests of the agency and the United States. Her decision to leave public service is a loss for USAID."

Steinberg declined to comment.

A senior USAID official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to comment on the subject, said Gomer has been reassigned from her general counsel's position and has submitted her resignation effective Feb. 9. The official said she was not ordered to resign.

The USAID spokesman, Kamyl Bazbaz said, "We take very seriously the independence of the inspector general and the importance of the agency's cooperation with IG audits and investigations."

He added, "It is the usual practice for the IG to brief the senior leadership of the agency regarding its ongoing investigations and audits."

In an inspector general's "memorandum of interview" last June, investigators described their probe into allegations that "Lisa Gomer, general counsel for USAID colluded with David Ostermeyer, chief financial officer for USAID, by working with him to write a scope of work for a personal service contract ... in the Office of General Counsel."

"Gomer planned to select Ostermeyer for the position," the memo said.

The job Ostermeyer would have received in working with foreign governments would have paid between $123,758 and $155,500, according the USAID solicitation document. The solicitation said "the work is generally sedentary and does not pose undue physical demands," an important factor in an agency where USAID workers can live in poor conditions in dangerous countries.

According to an inspector general's document from last June, Steinberg said he "had already looked into this matter thoroughly and knows there is nothing to it." Steinberg said the contract award was canceled because of issues raised about the procurement.

"He said it is a mistake to have a criminal investigation under way," the investigative document said. "To take a matter to the Department of Justice for criminal consideration without first reporting the issues to the front office is inappropriate and a judgment error on the IG's part."

According to the document the deputy assistant inspector general for investigations, Lisa McClennon, told Steinberg "the agency never has the right to instruct the inspector general's office on whether or not something is presented to Justice."

Issa said in a statement, "This interference by the top USAID official and his deputy in a corruption investigation of other top officials is disturbing and outrageous. Inspectors general can only be effective if they are independent. Efforts to intimidate or chastise an inspector general for investigating agency corruption and submitting findings to the Justice Department are simply incompatible with honest government."



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