The day after the General Services Administration saw three senior officials take the fall for a scathing inspector general report on excessive spending and waste, the new acting administrator tried to reassure employees that they can help correct the agency’s course.
In a letter to employees, Dan Tangherlini, the new acting GSA administrator, said, “We cannot allow mistakes or misjudgments of a small number of individuals to slow our progress or take our focus from our goals. GSA’s business is to solve customers’ problems; we are acting quickly to address them.”
He replaces Martha Johnson, who resigned after the agency’s IG found the Public Buildings Service spent $822,000 on a training conference outside of Las Vegas for 300 people in October 2010. During the planning for the conference, the IG says PBS also broke federal procurement rules and agency regulations.
“As the provider of services and solutions to the federal government and its agencies, we have a special responsibility to ensure that we conduct our business at the highest level of efficiency, delivering the best value to the American people and in a way that is beyond reproach or question,” Tangherlini wrote. “We need to redouble our efforts to those core values and ensure they are reflected in every action we take. We will continue to demonstrate our value proposition to our customer agencies through our own improved internal efficiency and cost-effectiveness.”
Among the steps he said the agency is taking are:
Reviewing all planned and proposed conferences and meetings that involve travel or substantial expenditures of public funds.
Canceling a number of conferences that only or primarily involve internal staff.
Launching an evaluation of GSA conference and travel policies and business justification.
Enhancing its focus on oversight by improving risk management.
“Every step of the way I will work with you, the talented, committed members of the GSA team to leverage the challenges we face today as an opportunity to build an even stronger GSA,” he wrote. “I look forward to meeting you, talking to you and hearing your ideas for improving our agency.”