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Congress set to investigate 'wasteful' GSA spending

April 03, 2012|By Morgan Little
  • Rep. John Mica (R-Fla.) presides over a committee hearing on Capitol Hill on Feb. 2.
Rep. John Mica (R-Fla.) presides over a committee hearing on Capitol Hill… (Carolyn Kaster / Associated…)

Reporting from Washington — After a report exposed lavish spending by the General Services Administration at a four-day conference in Las Vegas, a member of Congress says he will hold a hearing to probe the agency’s stewardship of taxpayer money.

Rep. John Mica (R-Fla.), chairman of the public buildings subpanel of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, said he would lead a hearing "to hold GSA accountable for taxpayer waste and inefficiency," once Congress returns from recess April 16.

An inspector general's report detailed $822,000 in expenses for the 2010 conference in Nevada, including a $100-plus-per-person reception and $6,325 for commemorative coins to commend GSA employees' work on the stimulus package.

"The Las Vegas fiasco is just the tip of the iceberg," he said. "This is a horrible example of wasteful conduct by public officials and federal officials."

GSA administrator Martha Johnson, along with two deputies, has left the GSA as a result of Inspector General Brian Miller's publicly released report. The document asserts that "GSA spending on conference planning was excessive, wasteful and in some cases impermissible."

Some of the offenses detailed in the report included free rooms provided to contracted employees despite their costs already including lodging; eight trips by GSA employees to Las Vegas-area hotels for "scouting trips" or "planning meetings" that combined ran up a bill of more than $130,000; and food expenditures totaling $146,527, with $79,511 for "light refreshments and breakfast buffets" alone.

"I feel I must step aside as administrator so that the agency can move forward at this time with a fresh leadership team," Johnson said in her resignation letter to the GSA. Chances are her departure won't be accompanied by another $8,130 set of commemorative yearbooks.

Original source: Congress set to investigate 'wasteful' GSA spending

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