Obama’s pick to head GSA passes first confirmation hurdle

A Senate panel backed President Obama’s pick to head the General Services Administration on Monday.

In a voice vote, the Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs committee voted in favor of moving to the next step in the confirmation process for acting GSA administrator Dan Tangherlini. The full Senate will now consider his nomination.

Dan Tangherlini (C) arrives at a hearing to testify before Senate Environment and Public Works Committee in April 2012. (Alex Wong/Getty). Dan Tangherlini before the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee in April 2012. (Alex Wong/Getty Images)

Tangherlini, who has led GSA for the past 14 months, told the committee in a hearing last week that the agency has improved its efficiency and accountability under his watch.

Under Tangherlini’s leadership, the agency has tried to rebound from various setbacks, including a 2012 inspector general’s report on lavish conference spending and another IG report that said senior GSA officials pressured subordinates to accept federal technology contracts with higher-than-necessary prices and unfavorable terms.

All of those issues arose before Tangherlini became acting head of the agency.

During the hearing last week, Tangherlini said he has conducted a top-to-bottom review of GSA, in addition to trimming its spending on travel, IT and printing by 43 percent compared to the fiscal 2010 baseline.

Tangherlini said GSA also reduced its bonuses across the board by 64 percent, saved a projected $200 million over the next decade by eliminating duplication of support services  and consulted with private-sector companies “to incorporate best practices from the business world.”

In a statement Monday, Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del.), chairman of the committee, suggested that many of GSA’s problems in recent years are due to a lack of steady leadership. He said confirming Tangherlini would bring stability to the agency.

“Over the past year, Dan Tangherlini has successfully led the General Services Administration as its acting administrator, proving that he has the know-how and capability to lead this critical agency,” Carper said.

GSA, which includes more than 12,500 employees, manages federal properties and facilities, overseeing an inventory of more than 370 million square feet of work space and more than 200,000 fleet vehicles. It also helps manage travel for tens of thousands of federal workers, as well as supply and service contracts for federal agencies.

To connect with Josh Hicks, follow his Twitter feed, friend his Facebook page or e-mail josh.hicks@washpost.comFor more federal news, visit The Federal Eye, The Fed Page and Post Politics. E-mail federalworker@washpost.com with news tips and other suggestions.

Josh Hicks covers Maryland politics and government. He previously anchored the Post’s Federal Eye blog, focusing on federal accountability and workforce issues.

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Josh Hicks · June 25, 2013