Press Releases

Washington, DCThe Board of Regents of the Smithsonian Institution today announced the resignation of Smithsonian Secretary Lawrence Small.  The following is a statement by U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), Chairman of the Senate Committee on Rules and Administration, which oversees 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.  I believe that his compensation package – totaling $915,698 in 2007 – was seriously flawed and the oversight of his spending practices lacking.

Now, in the wake of his resignation, it is imperative that the Board of Regents step up to the plate and ensure much more vigorous oversight and accountability.

The board has already established a committee to examine its governance structure. That's a good first step, but much more needs to be done to regain public confidence. 

The hearing, already scheduled by the Rules Committee on April 11, will now focus on three very critical issues:

First, it is clear to me that the Board must be comprised of active and engaged members of the public interested in vigorous oversight of the Smithsonian.  The current structure was established in the 19th Century.  We must now ensure that it is a model of a large, modern cultural and scientific institution.

Secondly, the compensation and spending practices of future Secretaries and other top staff members should be carefully reviewed and the Board must take steps to guard  against the kinds of problems that have developed in recent years.

Third, a plan must be brought forward to address the $2.3 billion backlog needed to fix and maintain the Institution’s buildings and facilities.  This should be a workable, realistic plan that goes beyond just asking for more federal funding.

Unless some major initiatives are undertaken soon, the buildings will deteriorate further, posing even greater threats to the priceless exhibits stored in the museums.”