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Cover-Up of Lavish Las Vegas Conference Went to Top Levels of GSA

Press Release

Location: Washington, DC

An attempt to cover up the General Services Administration's (GSA) outrageous waste of taxpayers' dollars in holding an extravagant conference in Las Vegas in 2010 went to the top levels of the agency.

According to records of email discussions between top GSA officials, including former Administrator Martha Johnson, former Public Buildings Service Commissioner Bob Peck, GSA whistleblower Susan Brita, and others, disagreements about how to reprimand a GSA official at the center of the Las Vegas conference scandal and the "Hats Off" employees awards program resulted not only in a mild slap on the wrist, but a bonus.

"Top GSA officials unbelievably condoned and rewarded this kind of taxpayer-funded extravagance," said U.S. Rep. John L. Mica (R-FL), Chairman of the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee. "Last summer the highest ranking officials at GSA fought over what to do about the Las Vegas conference and Hats Off scandals. The Deputy Administrator, who blew the whistle on the lavish conference, pushed for employee sanctions and reprimands while the Administrator and Public Buildings Commissioner overruled her and gave the Regional Commissioner at the center of the scandals a slap on the wrist and a $9,000 bonus."

"This conference scandal is just the tip of the iceberg, and GSA has not only been sitting on thousands of unused or underutilized federal properties, but it's been stonewalling our committee's requests for information about significant but unexplained increases in its administrative costs," Mica added. "We'll get to the bottom of the large scale culture of mismanagement, waste, and abuse at GSA."

"It's clear that the culture of waste and corruption went all the way to the top, with the President's hand-picked Administrator ignoring his call to cut waste in government. Administrator Johnson and her top deputies knew about this and tried to sweep it under the rug, while giving bonuses to those most responsible for waste." said U.S. Rep. Jeff Denham (R-CA), Chairman of the Economic Development, Public Buildings and Emergency Management Subcommittee. "What we're seeing is a gross lack of accountability. I am outraged, as are the people back home in my district where we continue to see double digit unemployment. I am committed to holding those responsible accountable and ensuring this never happens again."

Denham and Mica will lead a Congressional oversight hearing entitled "GSA's Squandering of Taxpayer Dollars: A Pattern of Mismanagement, Excess and Waste" at 8:30 a.m. next Tuesday, April 17, 2012 in 2167 Rayburn House Office Building.

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