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Congress will stage hearing on GSA Vegas conference spending (with related video)


There is more fallout from the resignation last week of General Services Administration (GSA) administrator Martha Johnson and the dismissal of her top deputies. House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Darrell Issa, R-Calif., has announced that he will examine the GSA Inspector General report, issued earlier this month, which detailed questionable spending related to a 2010 GSA conference in Las Vegas that cost nearly $823,000. After details of the report became public, GSA’s Johnson resigned.

The hearing, titled “Addressing GSA’s Culture of Wasteful Spending,” will take place Monday April 16 at 1:30 p.m. in the Rayburn House Office Building.

The following individuals have been invited to testify at the hearing:

The Honorable Brian D. Miller
Inspector General
U.S. General Services Administration

Ms. Martha N. Johnson
Former Administrator
U.S. General Services Administration

Mr. Michael J. Robertson
Chief of Staff
U.S. General Services Administration

Mr. David E. Foley
Deputy Commissioner, Public Buildings Service
U.S. General Services Administration

Mr. Jeff Neely
Regional Commissioner, Public Buildings Service
Pacific Rim Region (9)
U.S. General Services Administration

In a statement, Rep. Issa said, “After President Obama lectured the private sector about not wasting funds on Las Vegas conventions, it’s hypocritical that such a large agency with critical management responsibilities across government would hold this luxurious conference at the height of the recession and even spend thousands on custom-made coins touting the stimulus.

“Employees congratulating themselves and promoting one of the most politically controversial initiatives of this administration with taxpayer funds is indicative of the waste that exists in a bloated federal government. I appreciate the work of GSA Inspector General Brian Miller in investigating this matter. I expect that the committee will have additional questions for him and GSA about this wasteful spending,” Issa said.

Some of the more controversial expenditures noted in the GSA Inspector General’s report: a $95-a-person dinner at the M Resort Spa, a $75,000 bike-building training exercise, $3,200 spent on the services of a mind reader, and $6,300 for commemorative coinscelebrating the Public Building Service’s recovery and regional projects.

Rep. Issa has released a video from the GSA 2010 Las Vegas conference in which employees of the federal agency sing and joke that their environmentally friendly initiatives were intended to earn the Obama administration favorable media coverage. Issa said the video was proof of out-of-control spending in government.

In news reports, Democrat spokesmen said that the spending issues at the GSA were symptoms of long-term problems with the agency, rather than failed oversight by the Obama Administration.

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