GSA could get another congressional hearing on its calendar

It’s not yet over for the General Services Administration.

Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine), ranking member of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, asked Committee Chairman Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) on April 13 to schedule a hearing about GSA's spending habits. She wants the committee to look into the infamously lavish Western Regions conference, held in Las Vegas in 2010, and also about employee bonuses and money spent relocating a single employee.

“Our committee is uniquely situated to examine what appear to be numerous violations of acquisition rules and policy identified by GSA’s inspector general,” she wrote in her letter.

Liebeman had not responded to Collins' request as of late on the afternoon of April 13, so it is uncertain whether that hearing will happen.

GSA officials have a heavy schedule already.

Next week, current and former agency officials will spend time on Capitol Hill to answer lawmakers’ questions on three separate occasions. The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee is holding a hearing April 16. The House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee has a hearing April 17, and the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee has GSA officials on April 18.


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GSA is also expected to go before the Senate Appropriations Committee’s Financial Services and General Government Subcommittee to talk about its appropriations budget request and questions about the Las Vegas conference at a yet-undetermined date.

The General Services Administration has such a broad scope of work—from acquisition to property management—that each of these committees has jurisdiction over aspects of the agency's duties.

However, the number of hearings that have been called has reached the level of overkill, some observers said. Congress has many more substantive issues that government agencies are wrestling with these days, said Phil Kiviat, president of Guerra, Kiviat, Inc., a consulting firm.

“It is a pitiful example of congressional preoccupation with getting attention by sensationalizing minor, but headline-happy events,” Kiviat said.

Jonathan Aronie, a partner in the Government Contracts Practice Group at Sheppard Mullin law firm, agreed, saying “Congress never misses a good opportunity to bayonet the wounded.”

About the Author

Matthew Weigelt is a freelance journalist who writes about acquisition and procurement.

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