Five months after it was rocked by a Las Vegas spending scandal, the General Services Administration continues to land on Congress’ radar screen, even with a public relations effort to turn around its tarnished image.
The agency’s new leader, Dan Tangherlini, will face questions next Wednesday at a hearing before the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs. The grilling is unlikely to be as rough as recent hearings in the Republican-controlled House, and Tangherlini is working hard to show that he is turning the agency around.
Tangherlini, GSA’s acting administrator since April, will testify on his efforts to rein in travel and conference spending since the agency’s inspector general revealed details of a four-day extravaganza in Las Vegas for 300 employees.
Billed as a team-building training conference, the 2010 Western Regions event featured private parties, a mind-reader, a talent show, extravagant food spreads and other entertainment. The cost to taxpayers was $823,000.
Lawmakers will ask Tangherlini for a progress report on his review of GSA’s functions, operations, and management — and see what the agency still needs to do to regain the public’s trust, according to committee staff. Tangherlini has announced numerous changes since taking the job, including a dramatically scaled-back conference schedule, a temporary hiring freeze and a freeze of the per diem reimbursement rate for federal employees traveling to conferences and meetings.
Inspector General Brian Miller, whose scathing report in April resulted in the firings and resignations of the agency’s top leaders, will also appear as a witness.