Senate Rules Committee Holds Oversight Hearing on the Smithsonian

Despite the departure of controversial Secretary Lawrence Small, the Smithsonian Institution continues to take a beating on Capitol Hill.

The Senate Rules Committee held an oversight hearing this week on the Smithsonian. In her opening statement Rules Committee Chairwoman Senator Diane Feinstein (D-CA) sharply criticized the Smithsonian’s Board of Regents for their lack of meaningful oversight over the Institution’s operations. Feinstein stated that, “While the Board is well meaning and dedicated, I’m not convinced the current structure has the capacity to perform the fiduciary responsibility required.”

Smithsonian Inspector General Anne Sprightley Ryan stated that her investigation of Secretary Small’s business expenses, led her to “question whether the Regents had adequate information for meaningful oversight.” She cited examples of the lack of clear rules and policies on Small’s expenditures as examples of how dysfunctional the Institution had become. Ryan stated, “We also encountered an attitude that any rules that did exist did not necessarily apply to the Secretary . . .” She did note that in light of the controversy over Small’s expenses that, “the Regents have recently taken significant steps to enhance their oversight and promote accountability and transparency.”

Full video coverage, and written testimony from the hearing, is available at the Senate’s website for the Committee on Rules and Administration.