We have all been watching the bruhaha about the General Services Administration Public Building Service’s Western Regions Conference with a certain sense of forboding — I think we all understand that this is going to have ramifications far beyond one single conference in one part of one agency. And my big concern was that lawmakers — and the Obama administration — would do something akin to the 2004 “Get It Right” campaign, which sought to correct what were, in the end, a few contracting problems. In hindsight, everybody agrees that “Get It Right” got it wrong — and it was a clumsy attempt to use a hammer to fix a problems that required a scalpel.
One has a similar feeling today, and the over-the-top rhetoric during the hearings on Capitol Hill certainly feeds the theory — unproven by actual evidence, in my mind — that there is a systemic problem.
Congress may restructure the Public Buildings Service following the scandal over spending on conferences that brought down the agency’s commissioner, Robert A. Peck, and General Services Administration chief Martha N. Johnson. Some House Republicans, including Rep. Jeff Denham (R-Calif.), said they may consider trying to do away with GSA altogether. District Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D) hasn’t gone that far, but she said the GSA’s dual missions of signing real estate deals and managing contracts are largely unrelated and might require separating.
- Does GSA need to be fundamentally changed? If so, why? If not, why not?
- How should the Obama administration and Congress handle the GSA situation?
- If you did decide to fundamentally change the was general services were administered across government, how should that be done?
I’m going to be doing some research… looking at governments around the world and among states… yes, even the private sector. If you have thoughts or ideas, I’d love to hear them…