Martha Johnson, head of the General Services Administration (GSA), submitted her resignation to President Obama Monday following reports of excessive spending for a four-day employee training conference near Las Vegas in 2010.


Two of Johnson’s lieutenants were fired, and four GSA staffers who organized the four-day conference have been placed on administrative leave.

The turmoil at GSA, which serves as the federal government’s landlord, supplier and fleet manager, followed the release of a report from GSA's Office of the Inspector General (IG), highlighting excessive spending at the October 2010 Western Regions Conference.

GSA spent $835,000 on the training conference, according to the IG report, which details "excessive, wasteful, and in some cases impermissible" spending and improper purchasing practices. A few of the itemized expenditures included $3,200 for a mind reader and $75,000 on an employee-training exercise to assemble a bicycle.

GSA reportedly spent $130,000 to plan the conference proceedings, including travel costs and a conference rehearsal. Some of the meals at the 300-person event were consumed at semi-private parties held in individual hotel rooms. A total of $146,000 was spent on catered food at the event.

In her resignation statement, Johnson, who was appointed during the Obama administration to her most recent GSA post, said her agency “has made a significant mis-step. Reports of an internal conference in which taxpayer dollars were squandered led me to launch internal reviews, take disciplinary personnel action, and institute tough new controls to ensure this incident is not repeated. In addition, I feel I must step aside as Administrator so that the Agency can move forward at this time with a fresh leadership team.”

In a statement to the Washington Post, White House Chief of Staff Jack Lew said the president “was outraged by the excessive spending, questionable dealings with contractors, and disregard for taxpayer dollars.” Lew said the president “called for all those responsible to be held fully accountable.”