Share This Page

Possible USAID bid rigging probed

| Thursday, Jan. 24, 2013, 7:30 p.m.

WASHINGTON — The Justice Department is conducting a criminal investigation into possible contract rigging by the general counsel at the government agency that distributes foreign aid, documents obtained by The Associated Press show.

Memos from the inspector general of the U.S. Agency for International Development also reveal that the IG is investigating whether Deputy Administrator Donald Steinberg tried to interfere with an internal investigation.

Internal inspector general documents said he told the IG's office that it should not have investigated the alleged rigging, nor should the matter have been referred to the Justice Department.

Inspectors general are watchdogs within a federal agency and are supposed to operate independently.

The original investigation focused on whether Lisa Gomer, USAID general counsel, may have “wired” a contract last May so the winner of the solicitation would be the agency's retiring chief financial officer, David Ostermeyer.

The contract bidding for a “senior government-to-government assistance adviser” was canceled after questions were raised.

“If the solicitation was in fact designed for Ostermeyer to win, Ms. Gomer and USAID may have violated various federal laws, the Federal Acquisition Regulation and government ethics policies,” according to a letter from two House members to USAID Administrator Rajiv Shah in November.

The letter was written by Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, and Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, chairman of the panel's national security subcommittee.

On Wednesday, the inspector general's office wrote Issa's committee saying the Justice Department authorized the inspector general to give the committee documents related to Steinberg's potential interference.

The Justice Department said it would continue to investigate the original allegations. All of the documents were described as “law enforcement sensitive.”

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.