Targeting wasteful spending at the General Services Administration (GSA) and other federal agencies, U.S. Senator Claire McCaskill-who began investigating GSA in 2010-today announced new legislation she is introducing to create stronger safeguards against such waste and to install strong new measures for accountability across the federal government.
McCaskill began investigating questionable spending practices and lack of accountability at GSA, and her inquiry into a costly no-bid contract awarded by the GSA in Kansas City, Mo. scrutinized the agency's spending practices, preceding a wider investigation that ultimately cost the agency's top leaders their jobs.
McCaskill is now introducing the Accountability in Government Act, which would strengthen accountability and combat waste, fraud, and abuse of taxpayer dollars across all federal agencies.
"My years of finding and fighting waste and fraud in the federal government have clearly demonstrated the need for stronger accountability in Washington," said McCaskill, Chairman of the Senate Subcommittee on Contracting Oversight and a former Missouri State Auditor. "With this latest effort, I'm aiming to make sure that agency leaders can't just shrug off responsibility for wrongdoing, and to see that employees who betray the public's trust by wasting taxpayer dollars are punished, not rewarded for bad behavior."
Specific provisions in McCaskill's bill include:
Agency Accountability: Conferences costing more than $200,000 would need approval by the agency head or designee (such as a Chief Management Officer)
Reporting Requirements: Federal agencies sponsoring conferences would be required to report to Congress, on an annual basis, detailed information on such conferences
Punishing Bad Behavior: Federal agencies would be barred from giving bonuses to employees or supervisors under investigation by an Inspector General or equivalent; employees or supervisors who have been found to have failed to follow contracting regulations or laws in awarding a contract; and/or employees or supervisors who have taken, directed, or supervised actions that led to fraud, waste, or abuse of taxpayer dollars
McCaskill's continued work to install accountability at GSA comes after the Obama Administration announced that the agency's Administrator, Martha Johnson, resigned and that Public Buildings Service Commissioner Bob Peck was fired. The personnel changes were the result of an Inspector General report into a GSA conference held in Las Vegas and followed McCaskill's earlier hearing into waste, fraud, and abuse of taxpayer dollars through GSA contracts.
At the March 2011 hearing, McCaskill questioned then-Administrator Johnson and Bob Peck regarding GSA's decision to award a no-bid public relations contract and the failure of senior Administration officials to adequately review and justify the contract price. The GSA IG released a report earlier this year finding that "some of the information provided by GSA officials during the hearing contained misstatements of fact" and that a supplemental letter provided by then-Administrator Martha Johnson contained "incorrect" information and failed to correct the earlier errors.
McCaskill has also requested the names of agency officials who have received bonuses while under investigations by the Inspector General or while they were subjects of audits, as well as the size of those bonuses.