Dan Tangherlini, acting GSA administrator, Talks With 9 Wants To Know Investigative Reporter Russ Ptacek About Probe Findings

10:30 PM, Sep 12, 2012   |    comments
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WASHINGTON, DC (WUSA) - Whether it was  mystery illnesses at a regional headquarters, the controversial quarter-million dollar PR contract to deal with my investigation there, or the $30 million in unreported bonuses at the General Services Administration, the Acting Administrator remained on point and not defensive during an unscheduled one-on-one interview Monday.

Acting Administrator Dan Tangherlini started off the exchange by greeting me by name and affirming what 9 Wants to Know has already exposed in its ongoing investigation into GSA.

"I appreciate the great reporting you've been doing," Tangherlini said. "I think that you know, you've been raising very important issues actually you've been using some of the information to help us find out what the solutions are that we need to implement with the new organization."

High ranking staff at GSA had e-mailed 9 Wants to Know complaining our coverage was unfair.

"The bonus issues you raised, we agree, those are worthy of a deep dive inspection," Tangherlini said.  "As I've said, we've cut our SES bonuses by 85% this year."

The Acting General Services Administration Administrator also suspended performance awards and, in the hearing, he said all bonuses are being reviewed to ensure they are directly related to performance.

Previously, the Office of Personnel Management had reported GSA's total annual bonus pool as a little over $13 million.

A Freedom of Information Act request by WUSA9 obtained documents showing the annual bonus at over $44 million - a difference of over $30 million dollars that had never been disclosed.

"I'm not exactly sure what led to the discrepancy in the data between us and OPM," Tangherlini said. "What I'm interested in is what is the correct number. What are the policies that we have and how do we fix the problems"

A GSA spokeswoman blamed it on the Office of Personnel Management. OPM says it purposely redacted some bonuses because of privacy policies.

During the exchange in a Dirksen Senate Building hallway, we also asked him about the unexplained illnesses we exposed at a regional GSA headquarters and a commissioner there accused of wrong doing.

"I haven't been to Kansas City in part because I've been trying to minimize the amount of travel I do. I have met with the Region 6 staff," Tangherlini said. "I am aware of the issues out there. I do want to go out and learn more about it, but I also know we're leaving that facility."

We asked him specifically about the Kansas City regional commissioner Mary Ruwwe, who received bonuses despite hiring a quarter-million dollar PR firm to respond to my investigation and allegations of misleading Congress.

In Monday's hearing the Inspector General called the commissioner out of control.

"I'm not even going to try to defend what happened with that PR contract or any of those issues out there," Tangherlini said.

Throughout the conversation, Tangherlini stayed on point, saying he's at GSA to identify and fix problems and they've already made progress.

If you know about GSA problems, government waste or corruption, e-mail 9 Wants to Know at tips@wusa9.com.

Follow the latest on our GSA investigation, follow Twitter.com/russptacek or Facebook.com/russptacek

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