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The GSA's inspector general is looking into why the federal agency spent $269,000 on an awards event.
The General Services Administration’s inspector general is investigating another case of overspending at the federal agency – a one-day awards conference for agency staff that took place in Arlington, Va., in November 2010 and cost $269,000.
The GSA, which manages property and buys services for other government agencies, spent $21,000 on drumsticks said to have been used in a team-building exercise, Government Executive magazine reported. The agency also spent $20,000 on catering charges, IG Brian Miller wrote in a letter to Congress, according to ABC News. In addition, the agency splashed out on a guitarist, a violinist and $35,000 worth of picture frames.
“At a time when Congress must make the toughest budget choices we have ever made, I am sickened to hear more stories about the reckless disregard GSA shows for taxpayer dollars,” Sen. Joe Lieberman, I-Conn., chairman of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, said, according to Government Executive.
News of the lavish event comes only a few months after the GSA’s IG released a report revealing that the agency spent $840,616 to host a conference near Las Vegas in October 2010, Bloomberg Businessweek reported. Costs included $3,200 for a mind reader and $75,000 for a training exercise aimed at building a bicycle.
GSA Administrator Martha Johnson resigned after the report came out, ABC News reported.
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Johnson’s replacement, Acting Administrator Dan Tangherlini, alerted the GSA’s IG to the excessive spending on the Arlington, Va., event, Bloomberg Businessweek reported.
“Under the new GSA leadership, this event and type of spending is not tolerated,” Betsaida Alcantara, GSA’s communications director, said in an emailed statement, according to Bloomberg Businessweek.
Tangherlini has cancelled 36 GSA conferences since the IG’s report on the Las Vegas event came out in April, and earlier this week, he slashed executive bonuses and announced a hiring freeze at GSA, according to ABC News.
“I’m cautiously optimistic that uncovering these past abuses of taxpayer dollars means a new era of accountability and transparency at an agency that has sorely lacked both,” Sen. Claire McCaskill, chairman of a Senate subcommittee on contracting oversight, said in a statement, according to Bloomberg Businessweek. “There’s a new sheriff at GSA, and it’s good to see that he’s turning over every rock to find wrongdoing and correct the abuses of the past.”
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