Inspectors general feud over VA official’s alleged contract steering

Source: Josh Hicks, Washington Post, Federal Eye blog, March 16, 2015

Two federal watchdogs are feuding over the legitimacy of a scathing report last year on questionable contracts at the Department of Veterans Affairs, causing a rare rift between government accountability offices. Treasury Department Inspector General Eric Thorson issued a letter to House Veterans’ Affairs Committee Chairman Jeff Miller (R-Fla.) last week contesting findings of misconduct by former VA procurement officer Iris Cooper, now a top contracting official with Treasury. A report last year from VA Inspector General Richard Griffin accused Cooper of steering $15 million in contracts to a friend’s company and ensuring that the deals would be non-competitive. It also alleged that she showed a “lack of candor” with investigators. Thorson said the conclusions are unsupported, adding that they appear to have been influenced by a VA contracting official who wanted to settle a score with Cooper for alleging that he created a hostile work environment. Five witnesses said the other VA official boasted of his ability to sic the inspector general on “anyone he wanted,” according to the letter….