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Federal contracting chief quits under fire

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  • NEW: Rep. Waxman applauds Lurita Doan's resignation
  • Doan faulted for signing no-bid contract with a friend's PR firm
  • Accused of violating federal law by hosting briefing to promote GOP candidates
  • Doan says accusers have "mischaracterized" the briefing
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WASHINGTON (CNN) -- The head of the U.S. government's top contracting agency has resigned amid accusations of misuse of authority, including allegations that she tried to enlist agency officials to help Republican political hopefuls.

Lurita Doan is leaving the top spot at the General Services Administration after a controversial tenure.

"It has been a great privilege to serve our nation and a great president," Lurita Doan said in a statement released Wednesday by the General Services Administration, which buys and manages billions of dollars worth of federal government property.

Doan's resignation comes 10 months after the government's the Office of Special Counsel recommended to the White House that she be disciplined to the "fullest extent" for violating federal laws against using government employees for political purposes, a finding she denied.

White House spokeswoman Dana Perino would not comment on Wednesday's resignation.

Doan, a former computer systems executive, was the first woman to lead the 12,000-employee GSA. She became its administrator in May 2006 and was under fire from nearly the beginning.

The agency's inspector general criticized Doan for signing off on a $20,000 no-bid contract with a friend's public relations agency and accused her of "a disregard for the rules" in managing the $17 billion agency.

Inspector General Brian Miller told the House Oversight Committee in 2007 that Doan compared the GSA's internal auditors to "terrorists" and tried to cut his agency's budget.

The government's Office of Special Counsel, which protects civil service employees, accused Doan of violating federal law by hosting a January 2007 briefing by a White House official on Republican targets for the 2008 elections.

According to witnesses, Doan asked the political appointees present how the GSA "can help our candidates" in upcoming races.

The OSC concluded that her involvement was "an obvious misuse of her official authority." But Doan told the Oversight Committee that "I simply do not have any recollection of ever having said that" and said the meeting was "mischaracterized."

Her attorney criticized the watchdog agency's recommendations as "clearly visceral," questioning the accuracy and fairness of its report.

But Rep. Henry Waxman, the Oversight Committee's chairman, praised Doan's resignation.

"I know this decision was difficult for the White House and Lurita Doan, but it was the right thing to do," Waxman, D-California, said in a statement.

"GSA should now be able to return to its nonpartisan tradition and its work as our government's premier contracting agency." E-mail to a friend E-mail to a friend

All About U.S. General Services AdministrationU.S. Office of Special CounselU.S. Government

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