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Boxer declares 'the party's over' for lavish spenders at GSA

April 18, 2012|By Morgan Little
  • General Services Administration Inspector General Brian Miller testifies during a Senate hearing.
General Services Administration Inspector General Brian Miller testifies… (Alex Wong / Getty Images )

WASHINGTON – The Senate took its turn holding a hearing on the excessive spending of the embattled General Services Administration on Wednesday, with Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) announcing “the party’s over.”

Boxer, chairwoman of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works, began the oversight hearing on the GSA by detailing its history of misconduct stretching back to the administration of President Carter in the late 1970s.

Boxer called Daniel Tangherlini, the new acting administrator of the GSA, “a no-nonsense leader” and expressed confidence that he would be able to clean up the mess left behind by former administrator Martha Johnson, who resigned soon after the scandal came to light.

Though she remained harsh on those accused of wrongdoing, calling it “time to send the clearest of signals that this type of conduct and betrayal of public trust will not be tolerated,” Boxer sought to ensure that the agency as a whole would not be dragged down by those responsible for the excessive spending.

“The outrageous behavior of a few irresponsible, unethical, and perhaps law-breaking individuals are overshadowing GSA’s achievements following President Obama’s cost-savings directives focused on energy efficiency, reduced computing costs, and disposal of unneeded federal property,” she said.

Sen. James M. Inhofe (R-Okla.), the ranking member of the committee, echoed Boxer’s remarks on the GSA’s history of wrongdoing.

“I am concerned that this type of waste has become an embedded part of the culture at the GSA,” he said. “One can only wonder what kind of waste would have occurred in a better economy.”

The Senate hearing was the third of its kind this week, with two Republican-led committees in the House taking place Tuesday.

Inspector General Brian Miller, who released a report April 2 outlining the $823,000 cost of a 2010 GSA conference in Las Vegas after hearing about the lavish spending from GSA Deputy Commissioner Susan Brita, testified that he has been made aware of other possible instances of wrongdoing and is following up.

Miller and Tangherlini were the only individuals called to testify before the committee, with Boxer saying that “we’re not looking for photo ops of people taking the 5th.”

Her reference was aimed at Jeffery Neely, the regional executive of the GSA in charge of planning the Las Vegas conference, who has remained silent as his prominent role in the scandal has been thoroughly criticized. Further details of his excess, including trips to Hawaii and the South Pacific taken after Miller’s warnings, as well as the lack of organizational accountability for his actions, were uncovered Tuesday.

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Original source: Boxer declares ‘the party’s over’ for lavish spenders at GSA

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