Senator ‘sickened’ by new GSA controversy

 Sen. Joe Lieberman, I-Conn. Sen. Joe Lieberman, I-Conn. National Journal file photo

Leaders of the key Senate panel overseeing the General Services Administration responded to news of another conference featuring questionable spending by releasing a redacted version of a letter from the acting GSA chief summarizing progress on his “top-to-bottom” review of the troubled agency’s management procedures.

“At a time when Congress must make the toughest budget choices we have ever made, I am sickened to hear more stories about the reckless disregard GSA shows for taxpayer dollars,” said Sen. Joe Lieberman, I-Conn., chairman of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, after House Republicans revealed details of a November 2010 Federal Acquisition Service conference held in Arlington, Va.

The $270,000 event that reportedly hosted 1,000 guests at two hotels featured expensive catering and thousands of dollars in gifts to attendees such as picture frames and drumsticks said to have been used in a team-building exercise.

“This event,” added Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, the panel’s ranking member, “along with reports of $20,000 spent on cooking classes for team-building exercises for GSA employees in Kansas City, Mo., indicate there has been a culture of excessive spending and waste of taxpayer money.”

The senators also released a redacted copy of a letter acting GSA Administrator Dan Tangherlini sent to the panel June 20 in response to a series of questions the lawmakers posed on May 10.

“Based on the information in Mr. Tangherlini’s letter responding to a series of questions, GSA’s contracting functions clearly need to be examined closely,” Lieberman said. GSA employees “who are authorized to spend taxpayer money on contracts aren’t always qualified or trained to spend money wisely. And given documentation from the inspector general on abuse of government charge cards, I’m concerned that GSA is not taking appropriate disciplinary actions against those who use charge cards for their personal use. Unless GSA gets its own house in order, it will be hobbled in its mission to help the entire government run more efficiently.”

Tangherlini in his letter reviewed changes he has made since assuming his post in April, including canceling some conferences, tightening accounting oversight of per diems and other expenses, centralizing supervision of regional GSA bodies and improved monitoring of contracting. He said senior adviser Kevin Donahue is leading a review of the agency’s structure and it will be completed by September, in time for preparation of the fiscal 2014 budget.

Meanwhile, Rep. John Mica, R-Fla., the chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee who unveiled the latest GSA conference dust-up, announced a hearing set for Aug. 1 to explore details of the 2010 event.

Stay up-to-date with federal news alerts and analysis — Sign up for GovExec's email newsletters.
Close [ x ] More from GovExec

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Sponsored by Brocade

    Best of 2016 Federal Forum eBook

    Earlier this summer, Federal and tech industry leaders convened to talk security, machine learning, network modernization, DevOps, and much more at the 2016 Federal Forum. This eBook includes a useful summary highlighting the best content shared at the 2016 Federal Forum to help agencies modernize their network infrastructure.

  • Sponsored by CDW-G

    GBC Flash Poll Series: Merger & Acquisitions

    Download this GBC Flash Poll to learn more about federal perspectives on the impact of industry consolidation.

  • Sponsored by One Identity

    One Nation Under Guard: Securing User Identities Across State and Local Government

    In 2016, the government can expect even more sophisticated threats on the horizon, making it all the more imperative that agencies enforce proper identity and access management (IAM) practices. In order to better measure the current state of IAM at the state and local level, Government Business Council (GBC) conducted an in-depth research study of state and local employees.

  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    The Next Federal Evolution of Cloud

    This GBC report explains the evolution of cloud computing in federal government, and provides an outlook for the future of the cloud in government IT.

  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    A DevOps Roadmap for the Federal Government

    This GBC Report discusses how DevOps is steadily gaining traction among some of government's leading IT developers and agencies.

  • Sponsored by LTC Partners, administrators of the Federal Long Term Care Insurance Program

    Approaching the Brink of Federal Retirement

    Approximately 10,000 baby boomers are reaching retirement age per day, and a growing number of federal employees are preparing themselves for the next chapter of their lives. Learn how to tackle the challenges that today's workforce faces in laying the groundwork for a smooth and secure retirement.

  • Sponsored by Hewlett Packard Enterprise

    Cyber Defense 101: Arming the Next Generation of Government Employees

    Read this issue brief to learn about the sector's most potent challenges in the new cyber landscape and how government organizations are building a robust, threat-aware infrastructure

  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    GBC Issue Brief: Cultivating Digital Services in the Federal Landscape

    Read this GBC issue brief to learn more about the current state of digital services in the government, and how key players are pushing enhancements towards a user-centric approach.

  • Sponsored by CDW-G

    Joint Enterprise Licensing Agreements

    Read this eBook to learn how defense agencies can achieve savings and efficiencies with an Enterprise Software Agreement.

  • Sponsored by Cloudera

    Government Forum Content Library

    Get all the essential resources needed for effective technology strategies in the federal landscape.


When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.