Smithsonian secretary steps down

Smithsonian Institution Secretary Lawrence Small resigned yesterday amid growing criticism stemming from reports of lavish compensation.

Last month, the Washington Post reported that Small’s expenses totaled $2 million in the last six years.

The director of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History, Cristián Samper, will serve as acting secretary until the Smithsonian’s Board of Regents finds a permanent replacement.

The Post reported that Small accrued nearly $90,000 in unauthorized expenses, spent an additional $160,000 to redecorate his Smithsonian offices and received $1.15 million in housing allowances during his tenure.

Senate Rules Committee Chairwoman Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) said Small’s resignation would bring accountability back to the Smithsonian.

“It is my hope that Secretary Small’s resignation will help clear the air at the Smithsonian and help lead to a new era of accountability at one of our nation’s premier institutions,” Feinstein said in a press release.

Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), ranking member of the Senate Finance Committee, recently introduced a budgetary amendment that would freeze the Smithsonian’s budget until reforms were effected in the secretary’s office. Yesterday, he applauded Small’s resignation.

“I look forward to working with the board on governance reforms and also to ensure that the new secretary will restore the institution’s status as a point of national pride,” Grassley said in a press release.