As a result of finding included in a GSA Inspector General report, top agency leaders, including Administrator Martha Johnson, have stepped down or have been removed. Johnson resigned, and Public Buildings Service Commissioner Robert Peck was fired.
"It is outrageous that this agency, which costs the taxpayers billions because it's sitting on its assets, would spend nearly a million dollars on a Vegas junket," said U.S. Rep. John L. Mica (R-FL), Chairman of the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee. "The tab even included a clown for entertainment. This is just the tip of the iceberg. We have been trying to get the administrative costs from the agency and now we see why they have been stonewalling.
"I wonder if the $3,200 mind reader told GSA officials that blowing more than $800,000 on a Vegas conference for a few hundred bureaucrats would get them fired?"
The Administrator of the General Services Administration (GSA), an agency already responsible for wasting billions of taxpayer dollars because of its mismanagement of federal property, resigned yesterday after a report revealed the agency spent over $800,000 on a lavish training conference in Las Vegas.
Recent GSA financial reports suggest a significant increase in administrative costs over the past five years. As part of its oversight of the agency, the Committee has been trying to obtain information regarding the Public Buildings Service (PBS) budget since December, but the agency has been slow to comply with these requests. Even without this information, the Committee identified huge increases in the PBS commissioner's and the agency's budget in recent years.
"This may explain why the Administration has been stonewalling the Committee's travel budget information requests since December," Mica added. "This agency may have been hoping that everything that happened in Vegas would stay in Vegas. The Committee will plan to hold a hearing as soon as soon as possible, possibly the week of April 16th."
The revelations in the Inspector General's report is just the most recent example of the GSA's inability or unwillingness to be a good steward of the taxpayers' money.
"This agency is sitting on thousands of mismanaged, underutilized and vacant properties," Mica continued. "Excess and underutilized federal properties cost Americans 1.7 billion to operate every year. The Old Post Office Building, a tremendous federal asset, sat partially vacant for over ten years costing taxpayers millions annually in operational losses. GSA continues to resist consolidating the Federal Trade Commission in modern, efficient space and turning over its aging headquarters to the National Gallery of Art for privately funded renovation - an initiative that would save hundreds of millions of dollars. In addition, the Cotton Annex, another highly valuable but completely vacant federal building one block away from the National Mall, represents another GSA failure to manage federal assets in a way that benefits taxpayers."
"GSA's habitual mismanagement of taxpayer-owned assets is what makes spending hundreds of thousands of dollars on a conference for bureaucrats so apalling."
Specifically, the GSA IG report found:
GSA spent over $136,000 on pre-conference "scouting" trips.
GSA spent $75,000 on a team-building contract.
GSA spent over $146,000 on catered food, including mini-receptions and suite parties, and well exceeded per diem limits and justified expenses for a federal agency.
GSA impermissibly purchased commemorative and memento items for attendees such as coins and canteens.
Some GSA employees received impermissible gifts, including luxury accommodations for for themselves and family members.