The first of several congressional hearings about the scandal at the General Services Administration has been scheduled for next Monday. Several GOP lawmakers have said the Las Vegas conference represents a pattern of mismanagement and excessive spending at the GSA. But Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-D.C.) told In Depth with Francis Rose that while she believes a hearing is warranted, the problem has been cured.
“The first thing that’s in my mind is that nobody can do a more thorough investigation than the IG has done — that’s how this thing has come out — and that the president has already cured the problem,” she said.
Last week, Rep. John Mica (R-Fla.) said the conference scandal was “just the tip of the iceberg” — a comment Holmes Norton said she doesn’t understand.
“We have no indication that GSA is an agency where corruption has flourished. I think [Mica] may be referring to other issues that concern him at GSA,” she said, such as perceived mismanagement of buildings.
Although she does not believe there is a culture of excess at the GSA, this scandal is different than previous GSA-administrator firings in that “you have fully implicated an entire region this time.”
“Here you have the entire Western region, with lots of officials out there at least, knowing about it, deliberately engaged in circumventing federal law and regulations,” she said. “One wonders if they lived in [the mid-Atlantic] region if they would have even thought about acting that way.”
Holmes Norton agreed with the removals of the higher level, political appointees — whether they knew about the conference or not. But she added that the federal employees who have been implicated and placed on administrative leave deserve “due process.”
She hoped the upcoming hearings will focus on putting the IG report on the public record but feared it could devolve into “fed bashing.”
“It seems to me that, yes, we will have some stereotyping going on here…The employees involved need to be sanctioned, as the top already has been,” she said. “But it would be very wrong to somehow take these employees as representative of federal employees.”
Holmes Norton has “a great deal of confidence” in new acting administrator Dan Tangherlini, after observing his record as a manager in the District of Columbia, and plans to question him about oversight measures in the future.
“Now that the top of the agency has been taken out…I want to know how this could’ve occurred in the far region, [and] what it is that Mr. Tangherlini is going to do to make sure that that cannot happen again,” she said.
Francis Rose is the host of In Depth, which airs weekdays from 4-7 p.m. on 1500 AM in the Washington, DC metro area and online everywhere. Francis has covered all three branches of the federal government as a broadcast journalist since 1998. He joined Federal News Radio in 2006, and launched In Depth in 2008 as a daily show focused on connecting federal executives to the information they need to do their jobs better.