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.

About the Author

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

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