GSA Acting Administrator Dan Tangherlini announced this afternoon that the General Services Administration is instituting a hiring freeze and cutting senior executive performance awards this year by 85%.
The announcement reflected what Tangherlini described in a blog post as a comprehensive, top to bottom review of all agency operations, following the disclosure of abusive travel spending patterns that led to the resignation of former GSA Administrator Martha Johnson and the departure of several GSA executives.
The review “uncovered clear deficiencies in the area of performance awards,” said Tangherlini. “By our count, we currently have more than fifteen different bonus structures; there are questions about the agency’s high award rate, and questions about whether performance goals are set at a high enough level throughout the agency,” he said.
Tangherlini also announced a “temporary freeze on hiring” across the agency.
“As we’re rethinking how we are structured and how our compensation process works, I believe it is prudent to temporarily suspend new hiring,” he said.
Following are the complete remarks that Tangherlini posted on a GSA blog today explaining the announcement:
Three months ago we began a comprehensive, top to bottom review of all agency operations. We are committed to doubling down on our core mission of promoting efficiency, driving steeper bargains, delivering better value, and creating greater opportunities for government-wide savings.
As we continue this rigorous review, we are examining all aspects of GSA’s enterprise including the agency’s long-term hiring needs and compensation process. This review has uncovered clear deficiencies in the area of performance awards. By our count, we currently have more than fifteen different bonus structures; there are questions about the agency’s high award rate, and questions about whether performance goals are set at a high enough level throughout the agency. I believe performance awards should be issued for exemplary service that goes above and beyond the basic, expected level of performance.
Therefore under the discretion given to the administrator of the agency, we will be cutting Senior Executive performance awards this year by 85 percent. We will also be suspending all performance awards given out in the Administrator’s Office for the rest of the fiscal year. Additionally, effective immediately, we will eliminate the Awards Stores program, where employees had access to prizes like iPods and digital cameras. We have a responsibility to be good stewards of taxpayer dollars.
We are also going to undertake a comprehensive review of all our performance management and awards system, including individual and organizational performance awards. And we will work closely with the unions to fulfill our obligations.
At the same time, we are instituting a temporary freeze on hiring across the agency. As we’re rethinking how we are structured and how our compensation process works, 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.
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.