Start the Hearings

April 16, 2012

Starting today Congress will hold a number of hearings to investigate the 2010 Western Regions Conference held by the GSA and the culture of wasteful spending that has developed. The hearings were spurred into motion after Inspector General Brian Miller of the GSA issued a report to then administrator Martha Johnson detailing a conference costing the tax payers $823,000 dollars, prompting the quick resignation of Johnson from the GSA and a number of high level employees to be put on administrative leave. Now, as Congress begins to peel away thelayers of the scandal and spending at the GSA, more details about wasteful spending at the GSA are likely to emerge.

Unfortunately, none of those details will emerge from Jeff Neely, the individual who is responsible for the planning of the 2010 WRC in Las Vegas. Mr. Neely has invoked his 5th Amendment right to not incriminate himself further. With the individual responsible for planning, we may never know why the conference was, for example, not held at one of the many GSA conference centers throughout the country, instead of the M Resort Hotel in Las Vegas.

Much of the details to emerge will mirror those in the original report issued by the GSA Inspector General. But, in the meantime, what kind of action has been taken to actually keep wasteful spending from continuing to occur? Acting Administrator Dan Tangherlini has promised that, “nothing like this will happen again,” during a video blog now on the GSA site. Another conference planned for Las Vegas has been canceled and an internal investigation has been launched to find any other upcoming examples of inappropriately planned events.

While we watch the hearings, we hope that Congress and the GSA will begin to realize that wasteful spending in Washington will no longer be tolerated by the tax payers. Maybe, a real budget that limits spending at agencies like the GSA, might be a good investment of their time. Find our fact sheet on the GSA’s excessive spending and the 2010 conference here.

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