Congressman Chuck Fleischmann will be introducing legislation shortly to clamp down on the type of government employee behavior that led the General Services Administration (GSA) to spend $830,000 on an extravagant Las Vegas conference. GSA employees also went on lavish trips to Hawaii and videos of GSA employees mocking excessive spending patterns have recently surfaced.
"The scandal at the GSA is outrageous: Not only did the agency spend millions of taxpayer dollars on swanky conferences and vacations, but employees openly bragged about it on video. In my office, our expenses are accountable to the American people. It's time for federal agencies to do the same, and that is why my bill will introduce accountability for federal conferences. The American people need to know that their tax dollars are being used wisely. Our responsibility to the taxpayer demands nothing less," Fleischmann said.
Rep. Fleischmann's bill is expected to include several provisions to provide accountability and transparency. An agency head would have to approve any conference or retreat in which more than $25,000 is spent, and to certify that the conference is a vital part of the agency's core mission. Additionally, conference details would be required to be posted on the agency's website within 30 days, and the agency head would submit an annual report to the Congressional Committee of jurisdiction with a description of conference activities, goals, and how the conference relates to the mission of the agency. There would also be an exemption for the armed forces, and for conferences related to national security, or that are of a classified nature.