The inspector general who changed the government and industry’s view of what a conference is plans to retire April 19.
Brian Miller, the General Services Administration’s IG, announced his intent to resign in a letter to President Barack Obama.
“One former inspector general described inspectors general as ‘straddling a barbed wire fence.’ And so, that has been my experience. The challenges have been many and varied, but I believe that my office and GSA are the better for it. I believe that my record as inspector general demonstrates that I have been fair, non- partisan and effective,” Miller wrote to the President. “I leave confident that the excellent work of my office will continue under the outstanding leadership team of the Office of Inspector General. I am thankful for having had the opportunity to serve two fine presidents and the American people.”
During his nine-year tenure, Miller has been hailed for being both a hero and for being heavy-handed. Miller was widely considered a hero for his office’s exposure of wrongdoing at GSA, including the now infamous excessive spending at the Western Regions Conference.
He drew attention to the authority and responsibilities of IGs when he fought back against proposed budget cuts by then GSA Administrator Lurita Doan and helped other agency IGs improve how they address procurement fraud.
But Miller’s actions and decisions also have come into question. He’s aggressively gone after vendors under the False Claim Act, specifically around the price reduction clause (PRC). The price reduction clause requires the vendor to provide the government with its most favorable pricing throughout the life of the contract under the schedules program. If a vendor provides another company or another agency better pricing, regardless of terms or conditions, the company could be held liable.
Miller’s office targeted several companies from Oracle (paid $199 million in damages) to Hewlett-Packard ($55 million) to W.W. Grainger ($70 million) to a host of others for not complying with the PRC over the years.
Many in industry believe the PRC’s time has come and gone and GSA hasn’t done enough to remove it from the schedules.
In all, Miller led the IG’s office to recover more than $1 billion in False Claims Act civil settlements over the last nine years.
He has also come under fire for his staff’s treatment of long-time GSA employees in the aftermath of the Western Regions Conference scandal.
Others have said his reports held too much weight within the agency’s management ranks and caused suspensions and firings that have come back to put GSA in a bad light.
Miller’s office also is considered by some to be a part of huge conflict of interest in how it oversees GSA procurement efforts, but also works with agency contracting officers when doing pre-award audits.
But despite what some would call a rocky tenure, Miller is held in high esteem by current and former federal IGs.
“I have a great deal of respect for Brian Miller and his office,” the former IG said. “Brian Miller is a fair-minded guy. I think he approaches cases in a fair and impartial way. That’s his mantra.”
Miller detailed several of his accomplishments along the way, including leading an effort to recover New Deal artwork, helping in the Jack Abramoff corruption case that led to David Safavian, former GSA chief of staff and administrator in the Office of Federal Procurement Policy, going to jail and investigations into health and safety concerns at a federal complex.
“I count myself fortunate indeed to have worked on so many important and interesting cases, audits and investigations in my federal career,” Miller said in a statement. “Very few lawyers get to work on so many different matters. I prosecuted terrorists, fraudsters, drug kingpins, represented a federal magistrate judge and represented the Attorney General in a series of cases arising out of 9/11 in the Eastern District of New York. My federal career has been unbelievably exciting and I am sorry to leave federal service.”