Tag Archives: GSA

Obama Blames GSA Scandal On Bush – But For The GSA There’s Much More

President Barack Hussein Obama and his administration’s response to a General Services Administration (GSA) scandal over spending over $800,000 on a conference in Las Vegas, NV, in 2010, is to blame former president George Walker Bush. The Obama administration is responding to the recent report that shows a federal agency spent lavishly on a conference by trying to shift some of the blame to the Bush administration. Where have we heard that excuse before? It seems that Obama blames Bush (or somebody or something) for anything that doesn’t cast him in a favorable light.

The “basis” for Obama’s claim is that the GSA conference budget increased under Bush. But, since the GSA holds their conference every two years, Obama, not Bush, was president when the Las Vegas scandal occurred. Plus, the highest cost of the conference under Bush only came a little over $600,000. And none of the conferences held under Bush showed video of federal employees singing about coming under investigation, and playing around on the taxpayer’s dime.

Evidence of overpriced breakfasts in Las Vegas, friends-and-family junkets galore and in-house videos mocking their own profligacy came out first. Now we learn of extravagant bonuses, alleged kickbacks, obstructionism, and bribes. GSA Inspector General Brian Miller said that he is investigating possible bribery and kickbacks in the agency. A GSA employee who attended the Las Vegas conference said that GSA officials routinely created awards to justify taxpayer reimbursement for dinner events. At one such event, GSA bestowed the “jackass award” on an employee.

In the arrogance department, GSA regional commissioner Jeff Neely wrote in an invitation to personal friends: “We’ll get you guys a room near us, and we’ll pick up the room tab. … I know I’m bad, but as Deb and I often say, why not enjoy it while we have it and while we can. Ain’t gonna last forever.” That is the same Jeff “Bubble Bath” Neely who took the Fifth Amendment when called to answer for himself before Congress.

But the GSA scandal is quite small compared to the potential billions of taxpayer dollars that the GSA is funneling to Big Labor Unions. Obama, during his first week in office, signed Executive Order 13502, a union-friendly executive order. It forces contractors who bid on large-scale public construction projects worth $25 million or more to submit to union representation for their employees, which gives unions an advantage via the “project labor agreement,” (PLA) and sets “reasonable” pre-work terms and conditions. But it requires contractors to relinquish exclusive bargaining control, to pay inflated, above-market wages and benefits, and to pay union dues money and pension funding to corrupt, cash-starved labor organizations. These anti-competitive PLAs undermine a fair bidding process on projects that locked-out, non-union laborers are funding with their own tax dollars. The Washington Examiner reported in 2010 that the GSA paid the federal Lafayette Building’s general contractor an additional $3.3 million above the initial $52 million contract to ensure that the project was built with a union-payback PLA. Numerous [GSA] projects have been awarded to contractors submitting PLA bids at the expense of qualified firms opposed to PLA mandates. Full and open competition has been curtailed in violation of the federal Competition in Contracting Act.

The conference-type party continues with our tax dollars for Obama’s union donors and their GSA fixers.

But that’s just my opinion.

Cross-posted at RWNO, my personal web site.

Martha Johnson Resigns: Details On the $820,000 Conference

By now you’ve heard about a department that almost no one had ever head of (the GSA) spending over $800,000 on a conference that included clowns and a mind reader.  But it doesn’t take too much brain power to realize that for so much money to be spent, there had to be more at play.  This Bill O’Reilly video is a great way to get the ball rolling and serves as a quick peek at where all the money went.

This piece in the Washington Post goes into further detail:

“As the agency Congress has entrusted with developing the rules followed by other federal agencies for conferences, GSA has a special responsibility to set an example, and that did not occur here,” Miller wrote.

The agency “followed neither federal procurement laws nor its own policy on conference spending,” giving preference to favored contractors, for example, he wrote.

An example of this is below.

The GSA also failed to follow regulations on the use of contractors for the conference, promising, for example, the hotel an additional $41,480 in catering charges in exchange for the hotel lowering its lodging cost to honor the government’s limit on room prices.

The government has limits on how much it will pay for federal employees to stay in hotel rooms.  Apparently, the GSA wanted their conference to be in THIS particular hotel, but they also wanted the government to pay for it.  From the looks of things, the hotel could not rent out the rooms for what the GSA was allowed to spend.  To get around this, they promised the hotel that they would make up the money in catering fees to the tune of the above mentioned $41,480.  For those familiar with the lingo, this is called “making it up on the back end”.

Among the “excessive, wasteful and in some cases impermissable” spending the inspector general documented: $5,600 for three semi-private catered in-room parties and $44 per person daily breakfasts; $75,000 for a “team-building” exercise — the goal was to build a bicycle; $146,000 on catered food and drinks; and $6,325 on commemorative coins in velvet boxes to reward all participants for their work on stimulus projects. The $31,208 “networking” reception featured a $19-per-person artisanal cheese display and $7,000 of sushi. At the conference’s closing-night dinner, employees received “yearbooks” with their pictures, at a cost of $8,130.

This humble author has no explanation for $8,130 in “yearbooks”.  But as one can see, a lot of (our) money was spent on useless swag.

Probably one of the most disturbing details is this:  The GSA sent a total of 31 employees on six trips to scout out the party location.  Those six trips cost $130,000.  That’s $130,000 just to find out where to hold their over the top party.  When you’re wasting money BEFORE you’re wasting money, you’ve got a problem.  And that problem is exactly what forced Martha Johnson to resign.