Tangherlini to centralize GSA's IT, people management

GSA's CIO could gain considerable new influence under restructuring plan, acting administrator tells Senate panel.

Dan Tangherlini, acting administrator of the General Services Administration, said Sept. 12 he will consolidate all of the agency’s IT functions and personnel under the CIO and the agency’s hiring duties under the chief people officer.

The shift in the IT area provides an opportunity to improve the performance of GSA’s IT portfolio and make it operate more efficiently to save money. It’s a change from the current decentralized structure in which the CIO could do little, Tangherlini said.

“Previously, the chief information officer had limited authority over project development, budgets and performance,” Tangherlini told the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee during a hearing about GSA’s management troubles.

“By creating a central authority over the development and maintenance of information systems, GSA will streamline its IT investments while also increasing access to agency data,” he said. Casey Coleman is the agency's CIO.

In addition, GSA will consolidate hiring responsibilities and human capital management personnel and operations under the chief people officer. Tangherlini said the reform will increase visibility into hiring decisions and eliminate redundancy within the agency.

Tangherlini said he will present the proposed changes to Congress this week.

Tangherlini has already restructured other areas of GSA. In April, the acting administrator ordered the consolidation of all budget, finance and accounting personnel under the chief financial officer, increasing transparency, accountability, and oversight on GSA spending. With an administrative order, GSA officials gave the agency’s CFO authority over the Public Building Service’s regional financial and reporting functions, the regional revenue operations and regional financial operations. The Federal Acquisition Service's budget and financial management functions have also been transferred to the CFO.

Tangherlini said GSA is making crucial reforms by centralizing the CFO and the CIO responsibilities, as the agency's Inspector General recommended.

“In this time of shrinking budgets, GSA’s mission of delivering savings has never been more important,” Tangherlini said in a separate statement. “It is our responsibility to make every taxpayer dollar count, and I am confident that the reforms that are underway at GSA will help us do exactly that.”

As he has done in other congressional hearings, Tangherlini sat next to GSA IG Brian Miller and fielded questions about GSA’s Western Regions Conference. It was Miller's report released in April, detailing the wasteful spending associated with that conference, that led to the resignation of former Administrator Martha Johnson, Tangherlini's appointment to the acting administrator role and his subsequent reform efforts.

During the 90-minute hearing, Tangherlini answered questions about employee bonuses and how GSA officials may have seemed to skirt the Office of Personnel Management’s rules that cap a single bonus award at $10,000. In July, he  issued a temporary hiring freeze for the entire agency and suspended 85 percent of senior executive bonuses through fiscal 2013. Senators complimented Miller for his doggedness in oversight, as well as Tangherlini for his attempts at reforming the agency.

“If anybody isn't going to think what you’ve done is bold, they don’t understand [the Senior Executive Service],” McCaskill said. “They don’t understand that when you cut the bonus budget by 85 percent, that’s an earthquake in the SES world.”

NEXT STORY: Will feds get a pay raise?

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