The General Services Administration is facing heat for extravagances purchased with taxpayer money. A lavish employee conference in Las Vegas has gained major attention, but it's not the only focus of the House Economic Development, Public Buildings and Emergency Management Subcommittee, which is leading the investigation. Here are the items under scrutiny, according to a briefing released by a subcommittee:
The Western Regional Conference
- Costing $822,751, the Western Regional Conference rolled up charges of $136,504 in eight preconference scouting trips alone. GSA reportedly promised the hotel $41,580 in catering charges in exchange for the hotel's charging only up to the government limit in lodging fees. GSA spent $146,527.05 on catered food during the conference, including $44 a person for breakfast.
- GSA reportedly purchased mementos for attendees and clothing for their employees, and paid for employees' tuxedo rentals.
The Hats-Off Program
- The "Hats-Off Program" began with employees being given virtual "cards" with values as a reward for a work-related accomplishment. They could use these accumulated cards as currency in the "Hats-Off Store."
- Between 2009 and 2011, GSA spent $440,000 on the Hats-Off Program
- The award system was reportedly abused, with top awards going to the administrators of the program, award certificates being stolen, and employees giving themselves rewards.
- The awards included iPods, digital cameras, GPS devices, and other electronics, which far exceeded the $99 per item limit established by GSA.
- The investigation also spotlighted a 2010 GSA conference hosted by Region 9 at the Palm Springs Riviera resort, that was attended by 120 interns and 20 senior staffers.
- GSA's management of government-owned properties is also being questioned, with net revenues from GSA-owned buildings dropping by $274 million between 2010 and 2011. Buildings that GSA leases also saw revenue decline by $133 million in 2011.
Want to stay ahead of the curve? Sign up for National Journal’s AM & PM Must Reads. News and analysis to ensure you don’t miss a thing.