U.S. Rep. Jeff Denham (R-CA), Chairman of the Subcommittee on Economic Development, Public Buildings and Emergency Management, and U.S. Rep. John Mica (R-FL), Chairman of the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee today announced that a Congressional hearing will be scheduled for August 1, 2012 on the latest General Services Administration (GSA) scandal. Yesterday, the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee and the GSA Inspector General began investigations of a one-day GSA awards ceremony in November 2010 that cost taxpayers more than a quarter of a million dollars.
"Just one month after Jeff Neely was soaking in the hot tub and hundreds of other GSA employees were partying on the taxpayers' dime in Las Vegas, this agency blew another $270,000 in the nation's capital to hand out some awards and prizes," said Mica, Chairman of the U.S. House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee.
"In the midst of trillion-dollar deficits, this out of control agency spent $20,578 to hand out drumsticks to party attendees, and $36,174 on picture frames -- all hard-earned taxpayers' dollars," Mica continued. "Thousands more were spent on catering, a reception, travel expenses, and other logistics, not to mention entertainment by a drumming group, a violinist and a guitarist."
"Instead of clowns and mind readers, we've got violinists and guitarists -- GSA has really classed up their act," said Denham (R-CA), Chairman of the Economic Development, Public Buildings and Emergency Management Subcommittee. "We've known that there is a culture of waste, fraud and abuse within the many layers of GSA, and this proves that this is a systemic problem that is rooted deeply within this organization. We want to see exactly how far up this goes and how widespread this type of waste and corruption is within government. There's got to be other agencies out there doing this, and we plan to continue investigating until we uncover and put a stop to all instances of wasteful spending of taxpayer dollars."
"Whether it's through extravagant and senseless junkets, vacations and bonuses for its employees, or by turning some of the federal government's most valuable properties into money-losers by letting them sit empty for years, this agency has demonstrated a profound and unbelievable tendency to treat taxpayer dollars like Monopoly money. This agency is in need of some dramatic reforms, and the Committee will explore all these topics at this upcoming hearing," Mica said.
Mica and Denham announced the Committee's own investigation yesterday into the estimated $270,000 November 17, 2010 GSA ceremony held in the Washington, DC area. In addition to focusing on the investigation, the hearing will also explore potential GSA reforms, including examining whether the private sector would more efficiently perform GSA's mission to manage federal property. Earlier this year, the House passed legislation introduced by Chairman Denham, the Civilian Property Realignment Act (H.R. 1734), to help eliminate government waste and save billions of taxpayer dollars by selling or redeveloping high-value properties, consolidating federal space, maximizing the utilization rates of space, and streamlining the disposal of unneeded assets.