Tangherlini freezes hiring, cancels most bonuses

The new head of the General Services Administration issued a temporary hiring freeze for the entire agency and suspended 85 percent of senior executive bonuses through fiscal 2013, agency officials said July 17.

Along with the bonuses, Acting GSA Administrator Dan Tangherlini is suspending all performance awards given out in the administrator’s office for the rest of the fiscal year. He’s already eliminated the Awards Stores program. The program allowed employees to win prizes such as iPods and digital cameras.

“I believe it is prudent to temporarily suspend new hiring and to cut executive bonuses to ensure they are aligned with the outcomes of our rigorous review,” Tangherlini wrote on the GSA blog July 17.

Tangherlini made the decision as he's reviewing all of GSA’s operations, including its performance awards system. He took the helm at GSA earlier this year after the agency's Inspector General detailed wasteful spending at a conference held in 2010 in Las Vegas, prompting the resignation of Administrator Martha Johnson and disciplinary action for several key officials. Tangherlini began a top-down review of GSA to cut waste and poor spending decisions and put GSA back on track as an efficiently run operation.

The review is already bearing fruit. “This review has uncovered clear deficiencies in the area of performance awards,” Tangherlini wrote.

GSA has more than 15 different bonus structures. There are questions about GSA’s high award rate and whether officials have set performance goals high enough across GSA.

“I believe performance awards should be issued for exemplary service that goes above and beyond the basic, expected level of performance,” he wrote.

Tangherlini is working with federal employee unions regarding the policies, even as agency officials rethink how GSA is structured and how its compensation process works.

“I believe that these immediate changes will help the agency achieve better clarity about our compensation and hiring process as we continue to bring the maximum level of efficiency and effectiveness to the work we do every day,” he wrote.

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Reader comments

Thu, Jul 19, 2012

Don't stop with GSA. All departments need the same scrutiny and you would be surprised to find that the GSA is not alone - the gov is the good old boy network - the more brown nosing, the more rewarding your career financially, - yes I am a government worker but not for long.

Wed, Jul 18, 2012

@Judi, I don't know what agency you are contracting with, but as a federal employee I am held to a strict guideline of per diem too. I too pay out of my own pocket when I spend more than the guidelines allow. Something is wrong where you are contracting. If you feel this is true and you have proof blow the whistle on them!

Wed, Jul 18, 2012

Judi, government employees *DO* have strict travel and per diem guidelines. But, if the agency does not enforce the rules, you have abuses like at GSA. In my agency, we pay out of pocket for anything not allowed. If we buy *anything* on our charge card we must report it within 24 hours because when the charge hits the account we have admin. staff crawling all over it. Abuses like at GSA do not occur when you have strict enforcement of the rules.

Wed, Jul 18, 2012 Judi Tx

When I travel on behalf of government contract I have strict guidelines to follow. Including a set per diem. If I go over the per diem I pay the difference out of my pocket. I don't understand why government employees don't have to follow th same strict guidelines.

Wed, Jul 18, 2012 Vanla Arlington, VA

No other Federal Agency has an the Awards Stores program that allows employees to win prizes such as iPods and digital cameras. Federal workers do not need this type of incentive to do their work well. I worked for 22 years in DoD and rarely got a bonus or it was never more than $1,500. My husband gets one around $2,500, but he has given 43 years, most in senior level management. The bonuses at GSA have been excessive, especially given the current economy and National Debt.

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