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GSA’s conference scandal: What do you think?

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The General Services Administration’s conference spending scandal shows no signs of quitting. House Republicans have chomped down on it hard as an example of out-of-control government waste, and GSA officials are dropping left and right. The fallout is bound to affect federal employees across the government, and change how agencies think about travel and conferences.

We’d like to hear from you. What’s your take on GSA’s conference spending? Is it a big deal to you, or does it just reflect the status quo in the government? Has your office instituted any changes yet? Are you already getting pressure to rein in travel and conference spending? And what do you think the focus on this issue is doing to the public image of feds?

E-mail us at slosey@federaltimes.com or amedici@federaltimes.com. If you’d like to talk anonymously, that’s fine.

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Comments

  1. Terry Says:
    April 10th, 2012 at 12:42 pm

    My agency has already tighted down on conferences and travel. There are so many levels of approval needed to hold or attend a conference that this could never happen.

  2. Fred Says:
    April 10th, 2012 at 1:08 pm

    “My girl likes to party all the time, party all the time, party all the time…” – Eddie Murphy and Rick James circa 1985

  3. Bill Says:
    April 10th, 2012 at 1:23 pm

    LOL yeah right. Like the politicians and bureaucrats in Washington don’t do this. ****in’ hyprocrites.

  4. Debbie Says:
    April 10th, 2012 at 1:39 pm

    DISGUSTING! These officials who knew about this wasteful spending and those who approved it, should be fired. And if the GSA employees were making these tapes and partying hearty on Govt. time/money, they should be fired too. They know it’s wrong. There are PLENTY of people who would appreciate a job at the GSA and would work their butts off without ripping off the taxpayers — especially the millions who are unemployed and ESPECIALLY with the AVERAGE salary of the GSA workers being $92,000/year! I was a Federal employee for 12 years, and I’d NEVER participate in anything like this. What a rip off to the taxpayers.

  5. Zshot Says:
    April 10th, 2012 at 2:00 pm

    This seems to be only part of the story. I am sure that there was a budget analyst or officer to certify the the funds. There was a Contracting Officer who awarded the contracts for amounts over the Government Purchase Card limits.

    On the surface, there also appears to be ADA violations as well.

  6. Anon Says:
    April 10th, 2012 at 3:50 pm

    How….tell me HOW….in the world did they think this would fly by without anyone noticing it down the road? And I’m sorry, but who in the world wants the coins?

    We don’t even do travel these days at all at my agency because money is so tight. Frankly, that’s the one part I am loving….

  7. W. Says:
    April 10th, 2012 at 4:55 pm

    This abuse would not have happened in my agency. Unfortunately, the GSA scandal gives all federal government workers a bad name.

    Because of budget cuts, and now the fear of public criticism, our travel is very restrictive and meetings are asked to be replaced by webinars and emails, which often are not a good substitute. I can no longer go to a conference with my colleagues in nearby states for 3 days (every other year) to discuss/learn/share ideas and new procedures. It is frustrating and feel this travel restriction inhibits growth and improvement in my job skills.

  8. Phillip Says:
    April 10th, 2012 at 6:52 pm

    All of you are just jelous and if you were one of the select employees or politicians this sort of thing happens every day. I worked for the Government for 30 years (oh got paid by the Government) and partied every day. I loved what I did and went to work with excitment and was very proud of what I did for my years. Now the public see federal employees as trash and this is the sort of reasons why.

  9. Freida Says:
    April 10th, 2012 at 8:56 pm

    I work for GSA in one of the most frugal regions. We follow the rules by the book. I even have to take time off if I take longer than a 30 min lunch or 15 min break.

    I went to the WRC. The hotel was an hour from the strip and the per diem rate was $93, so we had no idea of the violations taking place. We were told that the bicycle effort was a charity event by Jeff Neely, we had no idea of the costs associated with it or with anything. We thought it strange that there was alot of food provided, but the “regular attendee” did NOT receive the shrimp and filet mignon, etc. We didn’t even know the lavish parties were happening.

    With regards to the videos, this is all been painting in a bad light when I know for a fact that our region has emails proving that our video was taped during breaks and lunch and after hours…we can prove it…but the news doesn’t want to hear it.

    Like 99% of you out there, I am furious and feel betrayed at how tax dollars were squandered…and I was there! Why isn’t the focus more on the Region 9 Regional Commissioner that made all of these decisions with the help of his planning team and the events staff? Why isn’t the Events Planner in Central office been fired yet, or at least placed on administrative leave?

    Unfortunately many innocent people are being swept into this witch hunt and there is alot of truth that is not coming out. Our agency has accomplished great things with ARRA, etc. We have alot to be proud of. But with this scandal growing out of control, our brand is now tarnished because of a few stupid people in another region. There are even several regional commissioners placed on administrative leave that did not attend ONE planning session, and are held responsible. Punish the guilty, don’t punish the rest.

  10. Mark Says:
    April 11th, 2012 at 9:18 am

    I am a Federal worker and these people should be fired!!! I mean all of them!! If this President does not issue the order to fire everyone of these people–all 20,000+ then he is a JOKE. Remember when all of the Air Traffic Controlers were let go and new ones hired? We have to deal with the GSA every day and they Save NO money in the long run!! Fire them all NOW!!!

  11. Gene Lewis Says:
    April 11th, 2012 at 9:41 am

    Yeah, I caught the GAO conference costs at $830K, but ….
    at least 300 people had somewhat of a working conference even though exceedingly lavish.

    Obummer takes a vacation to Hawaii and it costs us taxpayers $4,000,000 bucks plus, and only two undeserving adults and two kids are really having fun!!!!!

  12. Katy Griffith Says:
    April 11th, 2012 at 5:39 pm

    I retired after 30 years with EPA. In that time and since I had a college degree, I went from a GS-3 to a GS-13. As I progressed upward, I realized that the managers hired from outside of govt. did not understand the rules and regulations that applied to all govt. employees. At the same time, employees who wanted to get ahead did not bother to tell them the rules and regulations becuz their only goal was to get on their good side and get a promotion.

  13. Reality Girl Says:
    April 16th, 2012 at 4:40 pm

    I am laughing at all the hoopla and faux outrage. I’m guessing most people would have loved the event if only they could have gone. But wait – government employees are supposed to be undyingly grateful to have jobs and be the whipping poster girls and boys for everyone in America who doesn’t have a government job and who has jumped on the band wagon to hate all Feds.

    Also, people need to grow up and think logically for themselves. The conference planning trips to the tune of $130,000 for a very few people were likely excessive, but the entire $822,000 – I hardly think so. When you go line by line through the costs that made up the $822,000, I personally was not “horrified” as so many claim to be.

    Try buying hotel food for less than $19 per person for appetizers. And $7 for sushi seems like a fair deal to me. What were they supposed to eat – cold beans from a can?

    $75,000 on the surface seems like a lot of money for a 1 day team building exercise/training. But a little internet research shows that most trainers that offer this type of experience charge between $350 and $750 per person for one day training events. For 300 people at the low end of that daily rate range, the cost would have been $105,000.
    A lot of money, but when put in to perspective – is it really that outrageous?

    As usual, another sensational story designed to make all feds look stupid, lazy and corrupt when the reality is likely very different. It’s easy to sit in judgement on what other people have done when you don’t take the time to look at facts and analyze them carefuly.

    I find it curious that Congress is so up in arms about this. This type of thing has been done on Capital Hill as far back as the 1980s when I was a congressional intern. Lavish parties every evening – we interns never purchased groceries just made the rounds to receptions/parties where we drank and ate for FREE like kings and queens.

    Reality check is definitely needed.

  14. chris Says:
    April 17th, 2012 at 5:56 am

    I have been around Goverment for 20 years and I see alot of hard working people and I also see a lot lazy ones. I see a lot of waste and people that would be dumped in a heartbeat if the were out on the streets. Yes it is time to clamp down on the party of Federal welfare.