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GSA Reform


”GSA Reform”

August 1, 2012


Good morning Chairman Mica, Ranking Member Rahall, and Members of the Committee.  My name is Cynthia Metzler, and I am the Chief Administrative Services Officer of the U.S. General Services Administration (GSA).  In that capacity, I coordinate internal management and support services to promote efficiency within the agency covering a wide variety of issues, including travel and conferences.

As you are aware, Acting Administrator Dan Tangherlini was not able to appear today due to a longstanding family commitment.  Mr. Tangherlini reached out to the Committee to request that this hearing be rescheduled at a mutually convenient date so that he could personally appear, but was informed that the Committee was electing to proceed with today’s hearing with the awareness that the Mr. Tangherlini was unavailable.  Mr. Tangherlini looks forward to continuing to work with the Committee to improve the efficiency of GSA and refocus the agency on its core mission of streamlining the administrative work of the Federal government to save money for the American taxpayer.

Given that the genesis of this hearing was the Acting Administrator’s recent referral to the Inspector General of a 2010 awards ceremony for the Federal Acquisition Service, I have come here today to outline the steps we have taken to reform our conference and travel policies to prevent waste from happening again.   

As of April 2012, all travel for events, including internal GSA meetings, training, conferences, seminars, and leadership or management events, among others, was suspended.

We have consolidated oversight of conference and travel expenses in the Office of Administrative Services, which I lead.

My office reviews each and every planned future conference to make sure that these events, and any related travel, are justified.

For example:

  • Conferences require a business justification and the submission of a budget, and must be approved by the head of the office pursuing the conference, and myself and for those conferences with anticipated costs over $100,000, the Deputy Administrator must also approve the conference.
  • We have cancelled 37 previously scheduled conferences
  • Any travel must be essential to the mission of the agency, such as conducting litigation or performing building inspections.
  • Any routine travel for meetings internal to GSA requires a waiver from the Administrator or Deputy Administrator

These are only a few of the many reforms the Acting Administrator has taken to improve oversight, strengthen controls, and help to refocus the agency on its core mission.  His top to bottom review of all agency operations continues, and I know he looks forward to discussing those further with you in the future.

The 2010 FAS awards ceremony is another example of what the Acting Administrator has already recognized: a pattern of misjudgment which spans several years and administrations. It must stop, and that’s why Acting Administrator Tangherlini has instituted several stringent new policies on spending to put an end to this waste.

The new leadership at GSA is committed to investigating any misuse of taxpayer dollars. When we find questionable occurrences we refer them to the Office of Inspector General, as we did in this case.
GSA has already taken a number of important steps to reform conference and travel policies within the agency.  As part of the Acting Administrator’s top to bottom review of the agency, more steps will be taken to improve efficiency and save taxpayer dollars.

I appreciate the opportunity to come before you today to discuss this aspect of reform at GSA and I welcome any questions that you may have.