GSA Scandal -
some information in chronological order
April 03, 2012 - GSA Heads Roll over Lavish Spending Scandal
The head of the General Services Administration has resigned over
charges that the agency engaged in wasteful spending.
According to a federal report, the GSA went “over-the-top” with an
$820,000 training session at a resort near Las Vegas.
They spent $136,000 on a pre-conference planning trip, and the actual
conference featured a $95-per-person dinner, a mind reader, bicycle
giveaways, and lavish after-hour receptions.
In response, GSA chief Martha Johnson dismissed her two top deputies
and placed four other employees on administrative leave before stepping
down from her post.
“I felt I must step aside as administrator so that the agency can move
forward at this time with a fresh leadership team,” Johnson said.
“Collectively, the people of GSA now must review, repair, and rebuild.”
The White House has accepted her resignation.
“On his first day in office, President Obama made clear that the people
who serve in his administration are keepers of the public trust and
that public service is a privilege,” White House chief of staff Jack
Lew said in a statement.
“He was outraged by the excessive spending, questionable dealings with
contractors, and disregard for taxpayer dollars,” he said.
April 7, 2012 - GSA Scandal: Rap Video Adds Insult to Injury
The White House and Congress have more reasons Friday to be outraged at
the General Services Administration employees under investigation for
lavishly partying away taxpayers’ money.
The Office of Inspector General has uncovered a disturbing video that
shows a GSA worker dreaming about wasting the government’s money.
In the video, the worker raps about how he dreams of being the
commissioner and wasting the government’s money on cash bonuses to his
Although the GSA’s mission is to help the government keep its costs
down, the agency is in the middle of a scandal for a 2010 conference in
Las Vegas that cost an estimated $800,000.
Those expenses included more than $3,000 on a mind reader and
motivational speaker and more than $6,000 for commemorative coins and
The video in question, which was part of an employee talent show, is
now part of an OIG investigation.
The probe has lead to resignation of GSA chief Martha Johnson.
Meanwhile, a spokesman for the agency called the video “another example
of the complete lack of judgment exhibited during the ... conference.
Our agency continues to be appalled by this indefensible behavior.”
Those comments echo those of Congress and the president, who condemned
the excessive spending and disregard for taxpayer dollars.
But critics say the Obama administration knew about the conference 11
months ago and is only responding because the public is now aware of
April 10, 2012 - Eighth GSA Worker Placed on Leave after Scandal
The General Services Administration has placed an eighth employee on
leave after an investigation into a lavish 2010 training conference in
The GSA has been under fire from Congress for spending more than
$820,000 of taxpayers’ money on that conference, which included mind
readers and party clowns.
Three congressional committees are set to hold hearings about the
agency’s wasteful spending next week.
But the GSA maintains that, “the actions of the Western Regions
Conference are not consistent with how GSA conducts business.”
April 16, 2012 - Congress Delves into GSA Spending Scandal
Congress is set to hold hearings into the General Service
Administration spending scandal this week.
The GSA has been under fire from Congress for spending more than
$820,000 in taxpayer money at a conference in Las vegas in 2010.
The House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform will conduct the
initial hearing on Monday. Lawmakers are expected to look well beyond
the conference for more evidence of wasteful spending.
One GSA executive who is the focus of the investigation, Jeffrey Neely,
has refused to testify voluntarily and has been subpoenaed to appear at
Monday’s hearing. Neely’s lawyer said the witness will assert his
constitutional privilege to remain silent.
Internal GSA memos, obtained by committees from GSA inspector general
Brian Miller, indicate that lavish spending was part of a pattern and
became the subject of insider jokes among GSA employees.
One employee even bragged about the conference spending in a rap video
that won a prize at the event.
Another employee told internal investigators that agency executives
kept scheduling award ceremonies to justify giving employees free food
at GSA events away from the office.
By having the food connected to a ceremony, employees did not have to
pay for the meals with their daily expense allowance. But taxpayers
picked up the tab.
GSA administrator Martha Johnson has resigned in the wake of the
scandal. Eight GSA employees have been placed on administrative leave.
An internal government memo released Friday shows officials of the GSA
were aware of a spending problem months before the scandal broke.
The GSA is the agency that creates conference guidelines for other
April 17, 2012 - GSA Scandal Fallout Continues on Capitol Hill
Congress will hear more testimony in the spending controversy at the
General Services Administration Tuesday.
The GSA spent more than $820,000 in taxpayer money at a conference in
Las Vegas in 2010. And now, it was revealed that GSA officials held
eight pre-conference scouting trips and events to plan the conference.
Lawmakers will be hearing more from the GSA’s former Public Building
Service chief Robert Peck, who threw a party at the conference on the
Peck was fired in the wake of the scandal and has been ordered to pay
back nearly $2,000. He will testify before the House Transportation and
During the first day of hearings, the former head of the GSA offered an
apology for the wasteful spending.
“I am extremely aggrieved by the gall of a handful of people to misuse
federal tax dollars, twist contracting rules, and defile the great name
of the General Services Administration,” ex-GSA chief Martha Johnson
“I personally apologize to the American people. As the head of the
agency, I am responsible. I deeply regret this,” she said.
Regional administrator Jeff Neely, the man at the center of the
investigation, asserted his right to remain silent.
“Mr. Chairman, I respectfully decline to answer any questions based
upon my fifth amendment constitutional privilege,” he said upon
Neely was placed on leave by the GSA’s new leadership. He was
commissioner for the Public Buildings Service in the Pacific Rim
region, covering Arizona, California, Hawaii, Nevada, and several other
countries and territories.
Also at Monday’s hearing, GSA Inspector General Brian Miller revealed
that he is also investigating possible bribery and kickbacks and
already has recommended criminal charges to the U.S. Justice
The GSA takes care of buying and managing everything, from office
supplies to cars to buildings, for the government.
The agency oversees $66 billion of purchasing every year, and it helps
to manage about $500 billion of federal property, including 8,600
buildings and 210,000 vehicles.
Read this and other articles, plus videos, at Mail Magazine 24