What is to be done with the General Services Administration? The agency is now the “poster child” for government waste, thanks to daily disclosures of bureaucrats gone wild, topped by three days of House oversight hearings.

I know from history that this agency can be saved from rife corruption — but only if leaders attack its dysfunction root and branch.

On April 13, 1981, President Ronald Reagan did something no other President has done before or since. He directed the soon-to-be head of the GSA to either “fix the agency or shut it down” within six months. That soon to be head was Administrator-designate Gerald P. (Gerry) Carmen, a businessman from New Hampshire. Carmen had been an early supporter of Reagan, but his strong suit was being a no-nonsense owner of a network of tire and auto parts stores in New England.

What followed was something that should occur on occasion in every program, agency and cabinet department in the federal government. Carmen assembled a team of private-sector experts in operations, finance, personnel and change management and set them loose on the GSA. Their mission was his mission: design and implement a fix of GSA or shut it down.