Senators to GSA: Focus on structural reforms to Public Buildings Service


The General Services Administration should focus on structural changes to its Public Buildings Service, a group of senators from both parties said in a May 21 letter to GSA’s acting administrator Dan Tangherlini.

Senators Tom Carper, D-Del., Rob Portman, R-Ohio, Tom Coburn, R-Okla., and Mark Pryor, D-Ark., said in the letter that GSA should also address “long-standing property management problems” in order to minimize wasteful spending.

GSA is conducting an agencywide review after an embarrassing scandal that centered on a lavish 2010 conference in Las Vegas that cost $822,000 for 300 employees. The scandal forced out the agency’s top leaders, and the White House quickly installed Tangherlini to clean house.

“In an era of shrinking budgets and scarce resources, it is critical that the federal government becomes a better steward of the land and property it owns,” the senators said in the letter.

GSA should also work with Congress to develop legislation to help with any structural and management changes at the agency, the letter said.

Since taking the top job April 2, Tangherlini has ushered in quick and noticeable reforms, including:

• An immediate clampdown on employee travel and conferences, with the exception of last week’s GSA Expo event here.

• A new chain of command for finance officers at the GSA regional offices, who now report directly to headquarters instead of to their regional administrators.

• The consolidation of conference management at the new Office of Administrative Services, which is responsible for contracting, and approving and reviewing spending, for conferences.

In an interview, Tangherlini said he is looking at other possible reforms, such as consolidating some operations — such as information technology, finance and contracting — at its two main divisions: the Public Buildings Service, which manages federal buildings and building leases, and the Federal Acquisition Service, which oversees many federal contracting programs.

“Not having multiple organizations within our organization doing the same thing is going to allow us to be more efficient ourselves, deliver our services more effectively and reduce costs,” he said.




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