GSA’s Tangherlini sets new priorities as part of reform efforts

Dan Tangherlini, the General Services Administration’s acting administrator, seems to be indicating he’s in for the long term.

Tangherlini, who took over in April after a conference spending scandal rocked the agency, detailed in a memo to employees, which was posted on his blog, Monday afternoon a new mission and new priorities for GSA.

Tangherlini said in an interview in December he serves at the pleasure of three people: the electorate, his wife and the President. Only the electorate has spoken so far in as much as electing President Barack Obama to a second term.

Dan Tangherlini, acting administrator, GSA
The White House has yet to nominate Tangherlini to be administrator, instead worrying about more pressing cabinet and political positions, such as secretaries of State, Defense and Treasury.

“These are positions that are at the pleasure of the President and frankly at your family, so I think those conversations are still happening,” Tangherlini said in December.

When asked if he was leaving GSA, he said “I don’t know where those rumors come from.”

The decision to release six priorities signals he plans for an extended stay at GSA.

A GSA spokesperson wouldn’t confirm or deny whether Tangherlini let the White House know he would be interested in the administrator position.

“As we begin a new calendar year together, I am confident we will continue to build upon the progress that we have already made and make GSA the model of efficiency and integrity for the entire federal government,” Tangherlini wrote. “At a time of shrinking budgets, GSA’s role of providing the highest possible value at the lowest possible cost to our partner agencies has never been more important.”

The six priorities are:

  • Delivering better value and saving
  • Serving our partners
  • Expanding opportunities for small businesses
  • Making a more sustainable government
  • Leading with innovation
  • Building a stronger GSA.

“Finally, with all of these priorities in mind, GSA has a responsibility to the American people to carry out all of our activities, from our biggest purchases to our most routine leases, with integrity and the highest level of performance,” Tangherlini wrote. “I look forward to discussing these priorities with you, both in the workplace and on [internal collaboration tool] Chatter, in the weeks and months ahead. In 2013, working together, we can continue to improve GSA and find ways to offer even better service to our partner agencies and the American people.”

Top to bottom review

The priorities come as part of the top-to-bottom review Tangherlini ordered in the wake of the conference scandal, the firing of three senior executives and a major clamp down on spending across the agency.

The top-to-bottom review completed in September called for the agency to centralize technology and human resources functions.

“In my conversations with GSA people, and that’s been one of the most striking things from day one, is just how dedicated, focused and committed those folks are,” Tangherlini said in the December interview after a speech at the FedInsider multi-agency collaboration event. “Some of the people who are most outraged by the revelations of the whole western regions conference and some of the subsequent events were GSA employees, people who had dedicated 10, 20 or 30 years of their professional lives in making this agency as good as it could possibly be and having that work converted to a punch line of a joke, we need to recognize that and we need to work with folks. The best way to do that is to really reemphasize the importance and significance of our mission.”

He said the infamy from the conference scandal might help them to start a conversation with new and current customers.

“If people are worried in GSA about the reputation of GSA, I think they are our best advertisers,” he said. “When I go and talk to these people who really are committed and dedicated to delivering great services, I get fired about the work they do. I think they are really good sales people for the importance and significance of doing things once and well, of finding things we can share and driving best value into common services and acquisitions within the government. I tell everyone that I will do whatever I can as a leader and manager to help with morale, but I need everyone to help too. Morale at some levels is set by the people within the organizations and they have a role and responsibility to chip in on it.”


Shake-up at GSA

GSA to centralize oversight of IT, HR after the top-to-bottom review