Former GSA officials to appear before House committee, but not expected to say much

The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee is expecting five of the major players in the General Services Administration’s Public Building Service 2010 conference scandal to show up Monday. But lawmakers shouldn’t expect to hear much from them.

The committee lists former GSA Administrator Martha Johnson, Region 9 Commissioner Jeff Neely, Deputy PBS Commissioner David Foley, both who are on paid administrative leave, and GSA Chief of Staff Michael Robertson as testifying Monday. GSA Inspector General Brian Miller also is scheduled to testify along with acting GSA Administrator Dan Tangherlini.

The hearing is scheduled for Monday, at 1:30 p.m., and is one of three for the week. The House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee and the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee will hold hearings Tuesday and Wednesday, respectively.

The Transportation and Infrastructure Committee also lists Neely, Johnson, Miller, Foley and Tangherlini, as well GSA deputy administrator Susan Brita, who referred the conference to the IG, and Bob Peck, the former PBS commissioner, who was fired in wake of the scandal. Additionally, GSA Chief Financial Officer Alison Doone and GSA PBS event planner Lisa Daniels are scheduled to appear.

Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee
The Senate committee only lists Miller and Tangherlini as witnesses.

Neither House committee should expect to hear much from Neely, who was subpoenaed by the Oversight and Government Reform Committee.

Neely’s lawyer for the committee proceedings, Preston Burton, said Friday night to the Associated Press that Neely will comply with the subpoena and appear Monday.

Oversight committee chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) wrote Burton on Friday that the subpoena was issued after “you advised my staff that Mr. Neely would not appear voluntarily.” Issa said in the letter that Burton advised the committee “that if Mr. Neely is compelled to appear at the hearing, he will `assert his constitutional privilege to remain silent.”‘

It is expected that Johnson and Foley also would assert their Fifth Amendment rights as well.

Part of the reason Neely will remain silent is GSA IG Miller asked the Justice Department to look into whether Neely broke the law.

A congressional committee official, who was not authorized to be quoted by name on the subject, confirmed Friday that the inspector general referred Neely to the Justice Department. Whether the referral was directly connected to the conference is uncertain.

Burton said he doesn’t know whether a referral has been made.

A GSA spokesman declined to comment, saying the agency preferred to let the email speak for itself.

The Transportation and Infrastructure Committee likely will broaden its hearing and look at spending across PBS in how it manages federal buildings.

Rep. John Mica (R-Fla.) said in a briefing memo to committee members that the Public Building Service’s administrative costs increased by $260 million since 2007.

Additionally, Mica said PBS’ Federal Building Fund net revenues dropped by $274 million between 2010 and 2011, and it lost $133 million from leases last year.

The Associated Press contributed to this story


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