GSA Administrator Resigns After Report Finds Small Agency Spent $820,000 On Lavish Nevada Conference

In Washington, there are a few standard rules of engagement. Rule 436 is “if you are going to spend taxpayer dollars on lavish vacations, do not make a mocking video boasting that you will buy those things the agency can’t afford and “never be under OIG investigation.” This week the Office of Inspector General (OIG) proved the difference between rap and reality — it issued a damning report on the $820,000 spent by Public Buildings Service’s western region at the M Resort Spa and Casino in Henderson, Nevada.

The report has already caused the resignation of General Services Administration chief Martha Johnson. Johnson previously dismissed two deputies and suspended other career employees over the affair.

The report on the conference of this tiny agency within the General Services Administration contains an incredible list of excessive items, including more than $6,000 on commemorative coins, $8,000 on a “yearbook” and $3,200 for an in-house mind reader. What struck me most was the over $130,000 on pre-convention preparation, including visits to the proposed sites that cost $100,000, with another $30,000 for catering. It also included a consultant contract for $12,000 to help find a location they would repeatedly visit. I fail to understand why our federal building employees cannot find a resort on their own, particularly when resorts have staff to facilitate such conferences.

I am happy to report that this trip to Canada and Vermont was brought in at a cost less than $820,000, though we did order a second helping of Frickles last night. Nevertheless, I have asked our guest editors to investigate all of the expenses of this trip in our commitment to a transparent public-regarding blog. (I will note that the over-consumption of maple syrup was done yesterday without the knowledge or approval of the parents in the Depot Restaurant in Randolph).

Source: CNN

68 thoughts on “GSA Administrator Resigns After Report Finds Small Agency Spent $820,000 On Lavish Nevada Conference”

  1. Bud,
    That point has been brought up in the 9/11 conspiracy world ten years ago.
    Any special reason for looking at it now?
    The conspiracy folks thought it was rather obvious the release the day before the catastrophe twas timed to hide the mysterious disappearance.

    But we conspirationists are all idiots, including professors, professional Underwriting Laboratory engineers, etc.
    There are so many uncontestable facts: This crime scene was never cordonned off, the rubble was commandeered out of the city and destroyed without examination……….the list is long.

    So, what’s new about the disappeariing trillions?

    Lastly, my view on why Bush sat there in the classroom bemused for seven + minutes after he got the news?

    Simple, he was waiting to see if the standdown commands had been obeyed, and the public disinformation had started as planned so he could be sure that the public effect could be controlled. He did not need to do anything. It was all planned and prepared. Just an extension to Operation Northwood. signed by Gen Lymann L. Lemnitzer, chair of JCS.

  2. If you want to eat briefcases, I don’t think you have to leave home to do it. Just start packin’ ’em in.

    This message brought to you by the Council for Precision Language in cooperation with the Found Humor Foundation.

  3. Isn’t that nice….imitation…. The highest form of flattery…..

  4. Did anybody comment the obvious parallel between the “convention arranger” comments above, and the medical insurance and medical care industries view on things.

    It’s all so complicated that “$62/gallon for coffee is pretty reasonable for hotel coffee.” You can guess why without my help.
    My wife was at one at Hilton Head. By the second night all the Europeans were ready to revolt over the hotel meals. They got invited out then.

    Here’s my hyperbole for the day.




  5. Professor, under the circumstances I am not sure that having guest blawgers audit your expenses is enough and may open them up to allegations of conflict of interest. I suggest an observer on your next trip to insure that your expenses are appropriate in real time. Especially in the crepe’ department.

    I will of course volunteer.

    Ummmmm, crepes’.

  6. The only meetings I ever had to attend that had a similar feelgood mission (team building exercises and all, when I worked for the gub’mnt) were on site with a speaker brought in. We got notebooks and a pen and some printed handouts. Coffee was brewed in those large coffee-makers that the cafeteria kept on hand to loan out for meetings. They were not $2.700 per attendee affairs.

    Here’s the nut of the story: “What struck me most was the over $130,000 on pre-convention preparation, including visits to the proposed sites that cost $100,000, with another $30,000 for catering.” Looks to me like a group of bureaucrats thought they could act like Congressmen on junkets and once they got their beaks wet the actual training was the cover.

  7. Obama proves his incompetents by the people he surrounds himself with.

  8. AY2,

    Yep. That’s how it works. And with a lot of secrecy and little or no accountability, just imagine the possibilities…

  9. Anon Nurse, Probably because ‘they’, or some contingent of ‘they’ knows exactly where it went. IMO there’s the defense budget, the black budget and the real, black-black budget. Government don’t lose that kind of money and they don’t pay 900.$ for toilet seats or 600. $ for screw drivers. The skim goes into things like covert support and material for dictators and funding their campaigns against the forces of real democracy in there countries. Iran/Contra is a good example. People had to get paid off just to make the appropriate contacts to open that pipeline and keep it open. There have always been merc armies, either ad hoc or standing that do whatever dirty work needs doing with plausible deniability for the government that hires them. But you know all that. 🙂

  10. anon nurse,

    They can’t figure out where it all went. The federal government doesn’t really have an accounting system. The spend money when they want with no real accountability for why or where the money went. Don’t even think about asking for detailed accounting records because those records don’t exist.

  11. Bud,

    I have some theories but, for now, I think I’ll just keep them to myself… 😉

  12. anon nurse,

    Maybe Halliburton needed money
    for executive bonuses or something?

  13. Good questions, Bud. And why are so few trying to figure out where it all went?

  14. ekeyra,
    it happens everywhere in the corporate world, but that doesn’t make it less offensive. The system worked since the Inspector General blew the whistle on it.

  15. I guess we shouldnt care when government employees, like say a robert bales, murders a bunch of innocent people because, hey, private individuals do that too so whats the big deal?

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