The scandal at GSA (General Services Administration) just keeps growing —
- First, a $823K Las Vegas Conference
- Resignation of GSA Chief
- Triggered a wider investigation by their Inspector General
More recently, another “whistle blower” drew attention to a one-day $270K Crystal Springs, Virginia, Conference
- To celebrate $3.6M in bonuses awarded to employee attendees.
That was enough to arouse the sleeping beast of Congressional outrage —
But not enough to chasten the GSA –
- On Aug 1,2012, Cynthia Metzler, GSA’s Chief Administrative Officer, was forced to acknowledge (in sworn testimony) before Congress — at that very moment
- the GSA was holding a “Smart Pay Training Conference” for its “banking partners” at the (drum roll, please) Opryland Resort Hotel in Nashville, Tennessee
- Responding to Republican Jeff Denham, of California, Ms. Metzler didn’t “think” a GSA employee “could be occupying the $3000/night ” Presidential Suite ??
- Tim Walz, Democrat from Minnesota added — “I think you and I both know there is not going to be good news out of this conference,” – “Somebody is staying in that damn suite tonight, I would almost guarantee you.”
I remember vividly my own first visit to Opryland –
- The anti-bellum southern decor
- The FANTASTIC fried chicken
- The FABULOUS rock-a-billy nightclub
What I don’t remember so well is my invited presentation or the conference –
Which leads me to wonder –
- not just in this current period of uncertainty and austerity –
Is it ever appropriate for any government agency to spend tax payer money on lavish trips?
But especially the GSA? Who’s mission is to ensure that the federal government gets the best goods and services at lowest possible price.
- Shouldn’t GSA’s own spending be a reflection of that mission?
- What does it say about Congress and the last two administrations that GSA spending wasn’t tracked until a concerned employee “blew the whistle” ?
While Congressional hearings are a welcome way to expose the GSA scandal to the disinfectant of sunlight –there’s no need for new legislation.
Rather, this week’s hearing makes clear the need for a dose of common sense at GSA.
As well as more assertive management by the Executive Branch.
- And, yes, accountable?