Don't let GSA scandal taint our federal workforce

Lost in the noise surrounding this controversy, were some important facts contained in the IG’s report:

It was an Obama administration appointee, Deputy GSA Administrator, who brought the excesses of that 2010 regional conference to the attention of the IG and former GSA Administrator Martha Johnson. Although she had no involvement in the scandal, Johnson subsequently resigned, but not before she fired the officials responsible, or placed them on leave where civil service regulations prevented immediate firing.

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Before she admirably fell on her own sword to take personal responsibility for the matter, Johnson also outlined a comprehensive set of proposals to prevent such waste in the future, canceled future Western Regions conferences, established processes to ensure that regional procurement decisions be reviewed by national GSA staff, reduced travel budgets, and established a multi-layered review policies for future GSA events.

Despite the rhetoric from some, the excesses that existed at the 2010 GSA Western Regions Conference also existed at previous western regional conferences under previous administrations. Two wrongs don’t make a right, but let’s put the partisan wrangling aside and take positive action to prevent such events in the future.

While we’re at it, let’s make sure that the dedicated federal employees across the nation are not tarred unfairly by the actions of a few bad actors at GSA.  The House majority has made a habit of bashing the federal workforce at every turn. Their narrative is relentlessly negative about public service and our public employees.

If the same energy was directed at real oversight, rather than partisan advantage, we could take positive steps to ensure there is no repeat of the GSA Western Regions Conference fiasco.

Rep. Gerry Connolly (D-Va.) serves on the Committee on Government Oversight and Reform as well as the Subcommittee on the Federal Workforce, Post Office, and the District of Columbia.