GSA Madness

Welcome to the U.S., where we’re literally run by clowns.

The government has been playing a sick joke with our hard-earned money.  Amidst unemployment and a tight economy, the General Services Administration has wasted hundred of thousands of dollars on luxury and insanity.  These overgrown children spent $823,000 of tax dollars on a “conference” at a Las Vegas resort on, paying for mind readers, a conference yearbook, clowns, bicycle-building, commemorative coin sets, a comedian, and other ridiculous items.  The entire conference was a joke; including fake awards and superlatives just for laughs on top of the laughs already gotten from taking a vacation with working America’s money.  These self-indulgent, cocky wastebaskets may find themselves amusing, like this guy who won the “Commissioner for a Day” award thanks to his video proudly making fun of all the waste. 

The planners of the conference were paid extra, compounding the waste of tax dollars and absence of accountability. An official even spent an extra night at a $1,000 a night luxury hotel after the conference ended.  Officials have been aware of the scandal for months; GSA deputy administrator Susan Brita emailed agency officials last July that there was no substantive agenda at the 2010 Las Vegas blowout.

The GSA administrator Martha Johnson stepped down, and she fired Commissioner of Public Buildings Service Robert Peck and her adviser Stephen Leeds, who was acting administrator while the “team-building conference” was in its planning stages.  As if all this wasn’t bad enough, GSA was planning a return trip to Vegas, since they had obviously had such a fabulous time in 2010 eating spectacular $4 shrimp.  

The managerial catastrophe gets worse—to avoid $1,500 in travel costs, the administrator Martha Johnson spent $3,500 in AV costs to participate via video conference.

The GSA has urged employees to report waste and lavish spending.  Oh, goodie.  Everything’s better now.  Another kicker is the Obama Administration’s timely announcement that billions in taxpayer money are now being saved in reduced errors that result in improper payments to vendors and contractors.  This increased coordination between executive agencies has potentially saved $20 billion since 2010.  The fact that we can save billions simply from correcting payment errors is like saying we can save a million from not paying for clowns.  We shouldn’t be paying for the government to party and make mistakes.  We can’t celebrate the relatively small savings until we have an efficient, trustworthy, fiscally sound government with common sense.  Until then, the hits just keep on coming.  $3,000 to get one worker who was only involved in GSA for a year from Denver to Hawaii.  Five days in Hawaii in 2011 for one hour to break ground on new space leased for the FBI, with a ten-day junket scheduled for this fall?  Snorkeling in Hawaii with money from families like mine who have never been able to afford snorkeling in Hawaii?  Fantastic.  Americans do not take well to being played.  Good luck trying to raise taxes, Obama, when this is what your agencies are doing with our money.

The House Oversight Committee hearings begin Monday.  Let the games end.


Meghan Hassett