Bipartisan Outrage Over Government Waste

Josh_R

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#1
Lawmaker demands hearing following report of lavish conference footed by taxpayers
Published April 03, 2012

The chairman of the House transportation committee is calling for a hearing following a report that an obscure federal agency blew $820,000 on a conference near Las Vegas.
Rep. John Mica, R-Fla., chairman of the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, called the expenses "outrageous" but said it's "just the tip of the iceberg."
"We have been trying to get the administrative costs from the agency and now we see why they have been stonewalling," he said in a statement.
Mica's official said the committee has questions about increases in the agency's budget in recent years. He's planning to hold a hearing as early as mid-April.
In the wake of the report, the White House accepted the resignation of General Services Administration chief Martha Johnson. Johnson also dismissed two deputies and suspended other career employees over the affair.
The employees at the conference dropped thousands of dollars on luxury items and convention giveaways -- including more than $6,000 on commemorative coins, $8,000 on a "yearbook" and $3,200 for an in-house mind reader.
"It's unbelievable that red flags didn't immediately go up well before this junket," Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, said.
The 300-person event at the M Resort Spa and Casino in Henderson, Nev., included a $95-per-person dinner and reception, as well as several violations of federal laws and policies.
"As the agency Congress has entrusted with developing the rules followed by other federal agencies for conferences, GSA has a special responsibility to set an example, and that did not occur here," the inspector general concluded in its report.
One of the most striking details in the report was that planners spent more than $130,000 on pre-convention activities. This included six planning events held at the conference venue. Travel expenses for these visits added up to $100,000, with another $30,000 for catering.
To boot, planners had paid a consultant $12,000 for help in finding the location they would repeatedly visit.
"It defies belief that the government paid for six planning trips to the luxury resort where the conference was held. But even that wasn't enough for GSA. The agency actually wasted still more funds -- some $12,000 -- to hire an organization to locate the venue for the conference," Collins said, calling the "shenanigans" both "outrageous and unethical."
Republicans and Democrats reacted with equal disgust.

Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., ranking Democrat on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, said the report "reveals what appears to be a gross abuse of taxpayer dollars and a breach of public trust."
Sen. Joe Lieberman, I-Conn., called the incident a "stupid and infuriating waste of taxpayer dollars."
Public Buildings Service chief Robert Peck and Johnson's top adviser, Stephen Leeds, were forced out following the report. Four GSA employees who organized the five-day conference for the Public Buildings Service's western region in 2010 have been placed on administrative leave pending further action.
"On his first day in office, President Obama made clear that the people who serve in his administration are keepers of the public trust and that public service is a privilege," White House chief of staff Jack Lew said in a statement. "He was outraged by the excessive spending, questionable dealings with contractors and disregard for taxpayer dollars."
The report was filled with charges of lavish spending.
The conference, for instance, spent $75,000 for a training exercise to assemble 24 bikes that were later donated at the agency's direction to the Boys' and Girls' Club. Any equipment purchased with taxpayer dollars is supposed to be sold during government sales, but planners attempted to skirt those rules by having the trainers claim ownership of the cycles.
Planners spent $31,000 on a "networking reception" that featured $19-per-person "American artisanal cheese display" and $7,000 in sushi. Taxpayers also footed the bill for a $3,200 session with a mind reader, $5,600 for in-room parties, $3,700 for T-shirts and almost $2,800 in water bottles.
A separate cocktail reception included $1,500 for "Boursin scalloped potato with Barolo wine-braised short ribs" and a $525 bartender fee for a cash bar. A senior official spent $2,700 to entertain other employees after the closing dinner. And three officials spent almost $400 for rented tuxedos.
All of this occurred during a conference that a regional administrator directed to be "'over the top,' bigger and better than previous conferences."
The White House learned of the draft internal report in early March, and Lew and White House Counsel Kathryn Ruemmler investigated the conference for GSA employees. Obama later was told of the findings and demanded accountability.
Johnson put in place new rules to prevent future spending but they were not enough to keep her in her job.
"I feel I must step aside as administrator so that the agency can move forward at this time with a fresh leadership team," Johnson wrote in her resignation. "Collectively, the people of GSA now must review, repair and rebuild."
Read more: http://www.foxnews.com/politics/201...d-by-taxpayers/?test=latestnews#ixzz1r5SWHM5Z

Wow, $75,000 for 24 bikes = $3215 per bike. Pretty nice for something they were going to donate to poor kids.

All of this occurred during a conference that a regional administrator directed to be "'over the top,' bigger and better than previous conferences."
This is a sentence that should NEVER be uttered by a government employee about a taxpayer funded event.

Obama is doing a great job of overseeing the Executive Branch of government...
 

Stig

Wackbag's New Favorite Heel
Jul 26, 2005
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#3
Nobody will be punished for this.
 

Lord Zero

Viciously Silly
Aug 25, 2008
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#5
We really need to start going after government officials for embezzlement.
 

Hoffman

Guess who's back? Hoffman's back
Sep 28, 2006
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#6
Nobody will be punished for this.
Actually I believe three people already got shit-canned (nearly impossible if you're a govie) and the head of the GAO tendered her own resignation.
 

whiskeyguy

PR representative for Drunk Whiskeyguy.
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#7
Actually I believe three people already got shit-canned (nearly impossible if you're a govie) and the head of the GAO tendered her own resignation.
Probably with a great pension.
 

Josh_R

Registered User
Jan 29, 2005
5,847
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Akron, Ohio
#8
Agency under fire for Vegas conference had ballooning budgets in recent years
By Judson Berger
Published April 04, 2012
| FoxNews.com
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GSA Office of Inspector General
Shown here is a luxury suite in Nevada's M Resort, where members of the Public Buildings Service stayed.
Commemorative coins and gourmet catering weren't the only items an obscure federal agency was blowing money on, before a scathing inspector general's report put the kibosh on the habit.
The Public Buildings Service, known as the "landlord" for the federal government, is now under intense congressional scrutiny following a report that found it dropped more than $820,000 on a Las Vegas-area conference in 2010.
But the agency, part of the General Services Administration, appears to have been racking up administrative costs for years.

Between fiscal 2007 and 2011, the budget for the commissioner's office alone ballooned from $3 million to more than $9 million -- according to stats provided to the House committee now scrutinizing the numbers. The budget for the agency's headquarters rose 50 percent in that time.
Rep. John Mica, R-Fla., chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, has accused the agency of "stonewalling" his panel in inquiries about those costs. A subcommittee on that panel announced Wednesday that it has scheduled a hearing for April 19 to examine the agency's spending practices.
The GSA has not returned a request for comment from FoxNews.com about those budget figures.
And it's unclear why the figures within the Public Buildings Service have been rising over the past few years.

The commissioner for the service, Robert Peck, was fired in the wake of the convention scandal. The head of the GSA and a top adviser also left the agency following the IG report.
It may be incidental, but the increase for the commissioner's budget can be traced to the year after Peck was appointed in 2009.
In fiscal 2009, the commissioner's budget was $3.25 million, slightly above its level two years earlier.
But that figure jumped to $6.94 million in 2010. It jumped again to $9.16 million in 2011.

The overall Public Buildings Service budget figures, meanwhile, did not fluctuate by much during that period -- just certain components.
The Public Buildings Service was the subject of the inspector general's report. At issue was an agency-held Western Regions Conference in Nevada -- where the watchdog report found numerous instances of "excessive and wasteful" spending.
This included more than $130,000 for planning alone. At the conference itself, the agency spent more than $146,000 on food and drinks. A sampling: $44-a-person breakfasts; $19-a-person "artisanal cheese" displays; and $16-per-person pasta stations.
The commissioner, Peck, also held a party one night in his "loft suite" for senior officials costing nearly $2,000.
For participants, the GSA handed out $3,700 worth of shirts, $6,300 worth of commemorative coins and $1,800 worth of special vests.
The White House has condemned the conference spending.
Chief of Staff Jack Lew said the president was "outraged" when he learned about it and called for those responsible to be held "fully accountable." Four regional commissioners have since been placed on administrative leave.
Read more: http://www.foxnews.com/politics/201...d-ballooning-budgets-in-recent/#ixzz1r8Bil1I5
 

Josh_R

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Jan 29, 2005
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#9
Here is a nice update:

This Video Of GSA Workers Rapping About Wasteful Spending Is A Disaster For Federal Employees
Grace Wyler | Apr. 5, 2012, 6:25 PM | 561 | 5


Revelations of lavish and inappropriate spending at a 2010 federal training conference in Las Vegas have engulfed the Obama administration's General Services Administration this week, forcing several senior GSA officials to step down and prompting new calls for the President to crack down on government waste.
The details of the conference are shocking: 300 employees from the GSA's western offices were put up at the luxury M Resort Spa Casino, where GSA executives stayed in two-story loft suites outfitted with wet bars and multiple televisions. Attendees were treated to after-hours parties, a $7,000 sushi reception, and entertained by a clown, a comedian, and a $3,200 "mind-reader."
As if that weren't damning enough, a new video has surfaced from the conference that confirms that the GSA's excess was not only accepted, but celebrated.
The video features the winning entry of what was apparently an employee music video conference. In it, GSA employee Hank Terlaje of Hawaii croons about what he would do if he was Commissioner, to the tune of Travis McCoy's "Billionaire." His list includes buying computers and guns, driving around in government cars, giving out cash bonuses, and avoiding inspector general investigations.

The video is actually hilarious (at one point Hank and his fellow bureaucrats do a choreographed dance in their office), but it also portrays bureaucratic life as a pretty cushy existence. At the end, Terlaje gets a standing ovation from his fellow employees at the conference, and Deputy Commissioner of the Public Building Service David Foley crowns Terlaje "Commissioner for a Day." Foley also throws in a few jokes about Congressional oversight and Obama's initiative to curb government spending.
Here's the video, courtesy of the House Oversight Committee (who obtained it from the GSA Inspector General):
[video=youtube;vofWkCJvbDo]http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=vofWkCJvbDo[/video]
Read more: http://www.businessinsider.com/vide...ending-oig-investigation-2012-4#ixzz1rDFi9knm
 

Plunkies

Registered User
Jun 28, 2006
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#10
[yt]SV-xPS5-GxE&[/yt]
 

Psychopath

Plata O Plomo
Dec 28, 2008
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#14
Nobody will be punished for this.
Yeah, these jerkoffs are always outraged. Every year I hear these people bitching about waste, but nothing changes.
 
Jan 9, 2006
4,561
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Delmar, NY
#16
Here is a nice update:



[video=youtube;vofWkCJvbDo]http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=vofWkCJvbDo[/video]
Read more: http://www.businessinsider.com/vide...ending-oig-investigation-2012-4#ixzz1rDFi9knm
Oh. My. God. I'm speechless. I'm sure they only worked on that video on their own time, too. Never when they were on the clock.

My fiance works for the county health department. She's flat out said that if everyone there put in a full day's work every day they could cut their staff in half and not lose any productivity. That's where the real waste is.
 

Norm Stansfield

私は亀が好きだ。
Mar 17, 2009
15,949
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#17
My fiance works for the county health department. She's flat out said that if everyone there put in a full day's work every day they could cut their staff in half and not lose any productivity.
Productivity? What specifically is the county health department producing?
 

Motor Head

HIGHWAY TRASH REMOVAL
Jan 23, 2006
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#18
$823,000 discovered in wasteful spending. $16 trillion more waiting to be discovered. The government needs one gigantic audit.
 
Jan 9, 2006
4,561
11
228
Delmar, NY
#21
Productivity? What specifically is the county health department producing?
Food that doesn't make you sick because the owner of the restaurant you're in wants to save money on refrigeration costs and decides that the expiration date is more of a guide line than a rule, apartments that are rented to families with children that don't have chipping lead paint because the slum lord owner doesn't want to buy a few cans of paint, stuff like that.
 

Motor Head

HIGHWAY TRASH REMOVAL
Jan 23, 2006
10,385
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Land of hicks and rubes.
#22
Food that doesn't make you sick because the owner of the restaurant you're in wants to save money on refrigeration costs and decides that the expiration date is more of a guide line than a rule, apartments that are rented to families with children that don't have chipping lead paint because the slum lord owner doesn't want to buy a few cans of paint, stuff like that.
Anti-capitalist commie bastards! We all know that Mr. Chow the owner of "Chow's Happy Food Place" would never serve expired food or cut up stray dogs and cats to make chop suey. Lead paint chips.....they are wonderful plain or dipped in salsa.
 

jnoble

Lingering longer for a longering linger
Dec 4, 2005
8,486
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#23
I saw that douchey video today while at the gym. All I kept thinking was "So fired. Soooooooo fired...."
 

Hoffman

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Sep 28, 2006
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#24
Oh. My. God. I'm speechless. I'm sure they only worked on that video on their own time, too. Never when they were on the clock.
Just to comment on the Govies and how much work they do.

Another contract in my Operation had a guy who would leave a browser open most of the day with one of the news websites up, nothing big really when you think about it. He'd check the news every hour or so for 5-10 minutes per day. Well, one story he read just so happened to have some comments which caught the eye of the agencies web filters he does work for; this led to them monitoring his network drop for the remainder of the day. The government came back to us and told us that he had to charge 0 hours for that entire day because the we browser was open with a news site the entire day.

You think they do that type of monitoring on government employee computers?
 

Josh_R

Registered User
Jan 29, 2005
5,847
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Akron, Ohio
#25
White House points finger at Bush administration for GSA debacle
Published April 07, 2012

The Obama administration is responding to the recent report that shows a federal agency spent more that $800,000 on a lavish conference near Las Vegas by putting some of the blame on the Bush administration.
“At least we have taken, bold, swift forceful action to hold those responsible accountable and put in place protections to make sure this never happened again,” a White House official told Fox News.
The Inspector General Office’s report last week about the 2010 General Services Administration conference outside of Las Vegas indicates the Obama administration knew about the trip since May 2010. The report was followed by a release of videos.

One video shows an employee performing in the fake music video, which is laced with jokes and references that only federal employees are likely to get.
In the lyrics, the employee sings: "Donate my vacation, love to the nation, I'll never be under OIG investigation."
The report found the Public Buildings Service, part of the General Services Administration, spent more than $840,000 on the conference.
Two House committees now are probing the agency. One of those, the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, posted the video of the GSA employees online.
Committee Chairman Darrell Issa said a briefing Thursday by the Office of the Inspector General shows General Services Administrator Martha Johnson and Steven Leeds, senior counselor to the administrator, were told in May 2011 about the investigation of the conference. They resigned Monday.

The administration also argued Friday night that the cost of the Western Regional Conference increased sharply under the Bush White House -- from $93,000 in 2004 to $323,855 in 2006 to $655,025 in 2008, then $840,616 in 2010, or just 28 percent under Obama.
However, on Saturday morning Emily Baker, a former GSA regional administrator for President Bush, suggested to Fox News that the Obama administration is spinning the numbers.
"When they're talking about that it sounds good to say it went up over 100 percent," she said. "It went up to about $250,000 dollars. I mean it's a lot but when you start small it's easy to say it increased a lot."
Read more: http://www.foxnews.com/politics/201...sh-white-house-for-gsa-debacle/#ixzz1rYfPs1hh

Over three years in and STILL blaming Bush. Nice job fellas.

Former GSA head rejects push to 'blame' Bush administration over Vegas conference
Published April 09, 2012

The former head of the General Services Administration blasted the Obama administration Monday for blaming its predecessor over the lavish Las Vegas conference thrown by a division of that agency.
Lurita Doan, who headed the agency under then-President George W. Bush until her resignation in 2008, told Fox News that President Obama's team is trying to "divert attention" from its own scandal.


Obama officials last week pointed to rising costs under the Bush administration to suggest that the $820,000 Vegas conference could have been avoided -- if only the Bush-era GSA had acted.
"Blaming anyone else for their own errors is an Obama administration stock and trade," Doan said Monday. "They love to blame George Bush for all of their problems. The fact of the matter is that there can be no comparison whatsoever. And when you look at it, it's one of these situations where there's simply no way that you can excuse the kinds of excesses that went on."

An inspector general's report on the 2010 conference led to the resignation of GSA's most recent administrator last week, as well as the firing of two top officials within the agency.

The report detailed a host of ill-advised expenses, including thousands of dollars for seemingly frivolous items ranging from novelty yearbooks to souvenir canteens. Congressional lawmakers are now investigating, with one lawmaker saying the Obama administration knew about the expenses as far back as May 2011.
The administration has not attempted to defend the 2010 conference. Top Obama officials have condemned the expenses and pledged to implement protections to clamp down on wasteful spending.
But late last week, the administration noted that the budget for the so-called Western Regions Conference, which is held every two years, has skyrocketed since 2004. According to figures obtained by Fox News, the budget rose from $93,000 in 2004 to $323,855 in 2006. It then jumped to $655,025 in 2008.
"At least we have taken bold, swift, forceful action to hold those responsible accountable and put in place protections to make sure this never happened again," an Obama administration official said. "If Bush administration folks had acted under their watch, the 2010 debacle could have been avoided."
Doan, though, said Obama officials are just "circling their wagons."
"They know this is very damaging. You simply cannot justify the kind of wasteful spending," she said.
Doan was embroiled in her own set of controversies during her tenure in the Bush administration. She was accused of trying to hook up a friend with a contract as well as dabbling in politics potentially in violation of federal rules. Doan, who eventually resigned, claims she was the victim of Democratic lawmakers eager to target Bush administration officials.

Read more: http://www.foxnews.com/politics/201...stration-over-vegas-conference/#ixzz1rYgI8ax7