Federal Government Spends $822,751 On Training Conference
April 4, 2012 by Bryan Nash
Martha Johnson, the head of the General Services Administration (GSA), stepped down on Monday. Her move comes in the midst of an investigation about events that took place during a 2010 training conference.
The organizers of the event used taxpayer dollars to hire a clown, a comedian and a mind reader.
Senator Joseph I. Lieberman (I-Conn.) referred to the shenanigans as, “a stupid and infuriating waste of taxpayer dollars.”
According to Jack Lew, White House chief of staff and former director of the Office of Management and Budget, President Barack Obama was incensed when he heard the news. He demanded that anyone who would disregard taxpayers by promoting excessive spending should be held fully accountable.
“He called for all those responsible to be held fully accountable given that these actions were irresponsible and entirely inconsistent with the expectations that he has set as President,” Lew said.
Four GSA employees who helped plan the conference are on administrative leave, and two other officials have been fired.
The Office of the Inspector General (OIG) released a report on the fiasco, which took place in a high-end Las Vegas hotel.
“The OIG found that many of the expenditures on this conference were excessive and wasteful,” the report states. “In many instances GSA followed neither federal procurement laws nor its own policy on conference spending.”
The report breaks down the costs:
- Total costs: $822,751
- Costs incurred during the conference: $686,247
- Costs incurred prior to the conference: $136, 504
- Travel expenses for conference planning: $100,405.37
- Catering costs during conference planning: $30,000
- Catering costs during the conference: $146,527.05
- Cost of daily breakfast per person: $44
- Cost for each participant to receive a “yearbook” containing pictures of all attending: $8,130
- Cost for each participant to receive a shirt: $3,749.40
- Cost for each participant to receive a commemorative coin: $6,325