APRIL 11, 2012
The scandal surrounding the General Services Administration’s (GSA) exorbitant Las Vegas conference is merely the tip of the iceberg for a bloated federal agency that apparently has quite a history of mismanagement and waste.
The question is; why didn’t Congress act sooner to set limits on the GSA’s manic spending sprees? Why did it take a public scandal with lots of mainstream media coverage for lawmakers—especially those responsible for the agency’s oversight—to finally threaten to take action?
Before attempting to answer that question, here’s a little history. The GSA is huge, with a staff of about 14,000 and an annual budget of nearly $20 billion. It’s one of the of the government’s central management agencies and handles everything from office space for the feds to communication and purchasing. Ironically, the GSA touts itself as an “innovation engine” that helps the government cut costs.
But all that rhetoric went down the drain when the media got wind of a lavish conference the GSA held for its employees in Las Vegas. It cost taxpayers nearly $1 million and featured luxury accommodations for employees and their loved ones, fine cuisine, parties and expensive gifts. Adding insult to injury, dozens of agency workers were awarded cash bonuses for arranging the outlandish Sin City event. Read all about it in a GSA Inspector General report published this month.
Evidently this has inspired Congress to finally “investigate” the GSA. In fact, next week the House committee that has oversight jurisdiction over the GSA will hold a special hearing to address the agency’s “outrageous wasteful spending.” The Florida congressman organizing the session, Republican John Mica, now reveals that the GSA has a lengthy history of wasting taxpayer dollars.
In fact, Mica says the GSA’s mismanagement of federal property has cost American taxpayers billions of dollars. “GSA’s habitual mismanagement of taxpayer-owned assets is what makes spending hundreds of thousands of dollars on a conference for bureaucrats so appalling,” the congressman said in statement posted on his website.
Mica added that, for years GSA brass has stonewalled congressional requests for administrative costs, clearly indicating that lawmakers have known for some time about the corruption inside the agency. Why, then, hasn’t Congress bothered to take action before the Vegas scandal ignited so much public outrage?
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