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House committee threatens to subpoena USAID records

Feb. 5, 2013 - 01:34PM   |  
By SEAN REILLY   |   Comments
House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Darrell Issa, R-Calif.
House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Darrell Issa, R-Calif. (Mark Wilson / Getty Images)

The U.S. Agency for International Development could face a congressional subpoena if it doesn’t turn over records related to an alleged bid-rigging attempt, according to a letter from House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Darrell Issa, R-Calif.

The committee is investigating allegations that USAID’s general counsel Lisa Gomer last year designed a contract solicitation’s scope of work to help outgoing Chief Financial Officer David Ostermeyer win a job as a senior assistance adviser after he retired, Issa said in correspondence obtained by Federal Times.

While the contract was never awarded, the committee is seeking all records that refer to the solicitation, which was announced last May; a list of all USAID officials who participated in drafting the solicitation; and the findings of any internal inquiry into alleged misconduct related to the handling of the issue, Issa said in the Jan. 29 letter. The letter was also signed by Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, who heads the oversight subcommittee on national security.

In December, USAID officials rebuffed an earlier information request by the committee, citing an ongoing investigation by USAID’s inspector general.

Issa and Chaffetz had set a 5 p.m. Monday deadline for receipt of the documents. If USAID continues to balk, “the committee will consider the use of compulsory process to obtain them,” the letter said.

Asked Monday whether the agency has turned over any of the records, USAID spokesman Kamyl Bazbaz said officials were preparing a reply to Issa “and will continue to work with the committee to accommodate its oversight requests.” He declined further comment on the issue Tuesday, saying that “the content of our communications are between the agency and the committee.”

Ostermeyer, now retired, could not be reached for comment.

As the IG investigation was underway, Gomer was reassigned in August to other duties outside of the general counsel’s office, Bazbaz said. Last month, she turned in her resignation, effective Feb. 9, “for personal reasons,” he said.

Gomer referred requests for comment to her attorney, David Schertler. In an email, Schertler said that his client “cooperated completely” in the IG’s inquiry. The Justice Department also reviewed the matter and declined to open a criminal investigation, Schertler said.

Gomer 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,” he added. “Her decision to leave public service is a tremendous loss for USAID.”

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