The federal bureaucracy offers lots of opportunities for senior executives to spend the taxpayers’ money. Rarely do they get caught. This time was different.
The Government Services Agency spent over $800,000 on a fun-filled week in Las Vegas.
It cost $100,000 for travel. Then there was $30,000 for catering. Then there was $696,000 for on the rest of the conference
The head of the GSA and two deputies have resigned. Four others have been put on administrative leave.
The head of the agency referred to this as “a significant misstep.” Yes, it was. They got caught. This is very rare in Washington. But she put a different spin on it.
“Reports of an internal conference in which taxpayer dollars were squandered led me to launch internal reviews, take disciplinary personnel action and institute tough new controls to ensure this incident is not repeated.”
The money was nickel-and-dime stuff. But it left a paper trail. The boondoggle is something that the average voter can understand, which is why it has blown up in their faces.
The agency spent $146,527 on catered food and beverages for the conference, including $5,600 for three semi-private catered in-room parties and a networking reception with petit beef wellington, monte cristo sandwiches, 1,000 sushi rolls, cheese plates and pasta stations, according to the IG report.
Also during that reception, GSA paid $525 for two hours of bartender service fees for a cash bar. The total cost of the reception was $31,208. . . .
At the closing-night dinner, all participants received a yearbook containing pictures of all those attending the conference, taken when they checked into the hotel. GSA also printed souvenir books for the regional ambassadors, totaling more than $8,130.
GSA purchased numerous other items for distribution to conference participants, paying $2,781 for canteens and carabiners and $3,749 for shirts for all conference participants for a team-building activity.
The reason the heat was on is that Obama found out about it last week.He was furious. Like the rest of us, he can understand these numbers. No one can understand a billion dollars.
He issued a command to roll a few heads. This is an election year.
House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) blasted the GSA’s spending spree.
“After President Obama lectured the private sector about not wasting funds on Las Vegas conventions, it’s hypocritical that such a large agency with critical management responsibilities across government would hold this luxurious conference at the height of the recession and even spend thousands on custom made coins touting the stimulus,” Issa said in a statement.
What makes this unique is that it got publicity. This sort of thing rarely is discovered.
What is bankrupting the government are the billion-dollar programs that no one understands and which Congress will not cut.