Our good friends at Bankrupting America sent over the following video & fact sheet on the GSA:
PARTY IN THE GSA:
The 2010 Western Regions Conference
Recently, the Inspector General for the General Services Administration (GSA), released a report on excessive spending at a government conference by the GSA. According to the Washington Post, “The gathering of 300 employees from the agency’s Public Buildings Service in October 2010 was billed as a ‘Showcase of World-Class Talent’ at the luxury M Resort Spa Casino off the Las Vegas strip. VIPs — including then-buildings chief Robert Peck — stayed in two-story, 2,400-square-foot loft suites with wet bars and multiple HD televisions. There were after-hours parties, a $7,000 sushi reception, $44-per-head-breakfasts, a $3,200 mind reader and $130,000 spent on pre-conference scouting trips.”1 The total tab of the conference was over $820,000.2
The median household income in the U.S. is $51,914.3 It would cost nearly sixteen American households their annual income in order to fund the Western Regions Conference that was held by the Public Buildings Service of the General Services Administration in 2010.
How tax dollars were spent at the GSA Conference
In addition to having a clown and mind reader at the conference,4 here is a look at other examples of government waste from the event:
- Commemorative Coins
- Event Planners
- Contracts Intended for Small Businesses Go to Big Business
- Catering Costs
- Team-Building Contractor
- Award Ceremony
“GSA spent $6,325 on commemorative coins “rewarding” all conference participants (as well as all regional employees who did not attend the conference) for their work on Recovery Act projects, along with velvet boxes to hold the coins. These did not qualify as permissible awards because the coins’ design shows that they were intended to be mementos.”5
“Immediately after posting the solicitation on the Federal Business Opportunities site, a GSA national event planner sent a copy of it to the sales representatives of national hotel chains and to Location Solvers, a private company that assists organizational clients in finding venues for conferences. Location Solvers then informed the M Resort and other independent Las Vegas hotels about GSA’s interest in acquiring a conference facility.
In making its proposal, the M Resort contacted GSA through Location Solvers; Location Solvers also assisted GSA in negotiating pricing and other terms of the agreements for the various trips GSA employees made to the M Resort. In exchange for these services, Location Solvers received a $12,601.50 commission from the M Resort. The M Resort’s willingness to pay over $12,000 as a finder’s fee strongly indicates that further discounts might have been available to GSA if GSA had contacted the hotel directly, rather than working through Location Solvers. Since GSA already employs several full-time event planners, the use of Location Solvers appears to be redundant and wasteful.”6
Contracts Intended for Small Business Go to Big Business
“GSA awarded Royal Productions a $58,808 contract for audio-visual services. The flaws in this procurement included the following:
- Prior to selecting a vendor for these services, GSA was required to publish a solicitation on Federal Business Opportunities, but did not do so.
- Federal regulation also provides that contracts in this dollar amount are ‘reserved exclusively for small business concerns.’ Royal Productions is not a small business for purposes of this type of contract.
- GSA personnel provided the quote from the competing offer or for the audio-visual contract to Royal Productions, enabling it to present a winning bid. Disclosing source information is prohibited.
- GSA paid the housing expenses of Royal Productions employees twice. Royal Productions’ contract included $1,962 for ‘technical crew housing,’ comprised of $110 per night for three rooms at six nights each. However, GSA also provided the Royal Productions crew with twenty room-nights (four rooms for five nights each) out of its ‘comped’ rooms. (The M Resort contract provided for one free room-night for each 50 paid room-nights.) Had GSA not provided these rooms to the Royal Productions employees, it could have used them for GSA employees, reducing the cost by $1,860 (twenty room-nights at $93 each).”7
“GSA failed to follow contracting regulations in many of the procurements associated with the WRC and wasted taxpayer dollars. …Promising the hotel an additional $41,480 in catering charges in exchange for the “concession” of the hotel honoring the government’s lodging cost limit.”8
“Disclosing to the team-building contractor the agency’s maximum budget for one day of training, then agreeing to pay the contractor that amount ($75,000).”9
“The agenda on the last day included a ‘Cocktail Reception’ at 4:00 pm, a ‘Red Carpet Show’ at 5:30, a ‘Talent Award Showcase’ at 5:50, and dinner with a speaker at 6:20. The only ‘awards’ given during these events were presented during the Talent Award Showcase. There were four non-monetary awards given at that ceremony for musical performances, one for each region.”