By Kenric Ward | Watchdog.org Virginia Bureau
A bill aiming to root out wasteful spending and inefficiency at the junket-riddled General Services Administration was approved by a congressional panel Thursday.
House Resolution 6430, the “Public Buildings Reform Act of 2012,” will reduce the size of the government’s footprint, eliminate GSA waste and abuse of taxpayer funds, and increase transparency and accountability at the agency, its sponsors say.
The bill was introduced in the House by Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman John Mica, R-Fla., and Rep. Jeff Denham, R-Calif. Denham’s Economic Development, Public Buildings and Emergency Management Subcommittee unanimously approved the bill.
Mica and Denham, who helped expose GSA’s lavish conferences, junkets and bonuses, said H.R. 6430 focuses on three key areas:
Cost and use of space
- Requires GSA to offset any request for new space with an equivalent reduction of space through 2016
- Requires GSA to reduce its inventory by 1 million square feet per year through 2016.
- Encourages use of commercial real estate brokers and requires GSA to report on performance of brokers and in-house personnel.
- Requires reduction of Public Buildings Service personnel to 2008 levels.
Elimination of Waste and Abuse
- Prohibits bonuses for senior executive service employees through 2014. Jeff Neely, who helped plan the infamous 2010 Las Vegas conference, was an SES employee and received a large bonus while under investigation.
- Requires GSA to report to the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee 30 days before entering into any agreements for a conference involving the Public Buildings Service.
- Restricts the total number of participants in the Public Buildings Service’s internship programs to 50 each fiscal year through 2015 and requires the Inspector General to review the programs, their costs, value, and potential employment abuses.
Transparency and Accountability
- Requires GSA to submit detailed budgets of administrative costs, including salaries, bonuses, travel, training and conferences.
- Ends GSA slush fund and requires specific congressional authorizations of administration costs.
- Requires GSA and tenant agencies to certify every 6 months to Congress the actual number of people housed in leased and owned buildings and gives GSA authority to increase rent of noncompliant tenant agencies.
- Restores congressional oversight of large leases and property acquisitions.