GSA and Excessive Spending

April 3, 2012

Yesterday, The Washington Post reported that the Chief of the General Services Administration (GSA), Martha Johnson, had resigned her post in response to an internal report detailing excessive spending by her and several aides. The spending revolved around an event, held in Las Vegas, for 300 employees of the GSA in Oct. 2010. With a price tag of $822,751 dollars to the taxpayers, the event was lavish and, honestly, ridiculous.

To plan the event the GSA spent $130,000 dollars on travel and catering expenses to scout the site says The Hill. This left the GSA with $686,000 dollars to spend on the conference itself. Some of the more interesting items include:

  • $5,600 for three semi-private catered in-room parties
  • $44 dollar per person daily breakfasts
  • $6,325 dollars on commemorative coins in velvet boxes to reward participants for their work on stimulus projects
  • $8,130 for yearbooks with the participants’ pictures
  • And $75,000 for a training / team building exercise on how to assemble a bicycle.

Following a GAO report that labels our national debt as “unsustainable” and annual deficits surpassing $1 trillion dollars, the kind of excessive and wasteful spending demonstrated by the GSA, is an insult to the taxpayers and our system of government itself. Not only did the GSA commit the above disrespectful conduct against the taxpayer they also worked with their contractors and hotel to make the event adhere to government regulations to avoid scrutiny. The Washington Post reports that the GSA employees planning the event promised the hotel an additional $41,480 dollars in exchange for lowering its rates to coincide with government regulations on travel and expenses for employees. Just as shocking is the reported hiring of clowns, mind readers, and comedians to entertain during the event, but the apparent lack of those expenses in the GSA’s excessive spending report.

It is this kind of complete disregard for the taxpayers and regulations designed to control excessive spending that highlights the need for action by Congress and the President to stop wasteful government spending.

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