Thirteen months after he took over the troubled General Services Administration as acting chief, Dan Tangherlini will be nominated by President Obama Wednesday for Senate confirmation as the agency’s official administrator.
“Dan Tangherlini has worked tirelessly to restore the trust of the American people in the agency and provide them with the highest level of service,” said a White House official Tuesday night who could not be identified because the nomination was not public.
Tangherlini, 45, was chief financial officer and assistant secretary for management at the Treasury Department when the president moved him quickly into the top spot at GSA in April 2012, days after a report by the agency’s inspector general revealed an embarrassing episode of wasteful spending.
Officials in the Public Buildings Service, which oversees federal real estate, had organized a junket off the Las Vegas strip for 300 employees in the department’s West Coast outposts.
The $823,000 conference featured a mind reader, after-hours parties in loft suites, lavish receptions and award ceremonies in four days of revelry. GSA Administrator Martha Johnson and her top deputies were forced out, along with more than a dozen other senior executives and managers.
Tangherlini declared an end to what he described as a culture of excess that tried too hard to emulate the private sector. He reorganized the buildings service and the agency’s vast department responsible for buying supplies for federal agencies, cutting down on redundancies and costs and stressing accountability.
He also led a government-wide effort to slash federal travel to conferences and unnecessary training seminars, and has focused on reducing the government’s real estate footprint to save money.
His administration may have gone too far in disciplining at least one executive after the Las Vegas scandal. In March, the Merit Systems Protection Board ruled that Paul Prouty, who managed federal buildings in the Rocky Mountain region and was fired, was not guilty of misconduct. The board ordered Prouty reinstated. GSA has appealed the ruling.
Last week, in a follow-up report on the Las Vegas case, Inspector General Brian Miller reported that the agency’s bonus system for senior executives doled out excessive awards, some based on questionable merit. Tangherlini has halted the program that came in for the most criticism, and slashed bonuses and awards in general.
He is among the most respected managers in government, having served as the District’s administrator and deputy mayor and as interim general manager of Metro before joining the Obama administration. He also held several jobs in the Clinton administration. He is expected to enjoy broad support in the Senate at his confirmation hearings.