LATEST GSA FIASCO UNCOVERED BY NEW AGENCY CHIEF

Jul 19, 2012 Issues: Transportation

LATEST GSA FIASCO UNCOVERED BY NEW AGENCY CHIEF
Rahall and Norton Applaud His Whistle Blowing

Washington, D.C. – Two top ranking Democratic Members of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee today commended Acting GSA Administrator Dan Tangerlini for blowing the whistle on additional abuses of taxpayer money at the agency.  Earlier this month Tangerlini called upon the GSA’s Inspector General to investigate lavish spending at a November 2010 agency performance award ceremony.  The IG, Brian Miller, today filed a preliminary report on the matter with the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee.

“It is deeply troubling to learn that more than a quarter million dollars in hard earned taxpayer money was wasted so that certain GSA employees could congratulate themselves,” said U.S. Representative Nick J. Rahall (D-WV), top Democrat on the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee.  “These outrageous expenditures included more than $20,000 for drumsticks, $8,000 for an appearance by someone called ‘Agent X’, and a host of other frivolous expenses.  Acting GSA Administrator Dan Tangherlini should be commended for referring this violation of the public trust to the Inspector General, and Committee Democrats are asking for a detailed accounting of this matter.”

Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC) Ranking Member on Subcommittee on Economic Development, Public Buildings, and Emergency Management said, “I am astonished and deeply disappointed at the discovery of these new violations by GSA officials. The squandering of these taxpayer funds almost two years ago, occurred about the same time as the infamous western regional conference, when millions of Americans were still feeling the effects of the 2008 financial crisis. As Ranking Member of the subcommittee of jurisdiction, I am asking the Inspector General to keep us closely informed of his findings as the investigation proceeds.”

The Inspector General informed the Subcommittee on Economic Development, Public Buildings, and Emergency Management that an investigation is being launched into a $268,732 taxpayer funded awards ceremony for GSA employees.   According to the preliminary findings of the Inspector General, the November 2010 event at Crystal City Gateway Marriot included expenses of more than $35,000 for picture frames, $20,000 in catering charges as well as funding for a violinist and guitarist. 

This latest fiasco follows on the heels to the GSA Inspector General’s April 2, 2012 revelation that the agency spent $822,751 of taxpayer funds to conduct the Western Regions Conference in Las Vegas, Nevada.  In the report, the IG found that “many of the expenditures on this conference were excessive and wasteful and that in many instances GSA followed neither federal procurement laws nor its own policy on conference spending.” 

A copy of the Inspector General’s letter to the Subcommittee as well as a letter that Rahall and Norton sent to the IG today are below.

-30-

July 19, 2012

The Honorable Eleanor Holmes Norton
Ranking Member
Economic Development, Public Buildings, and Emergency Management Subcommittee
585 Ford House Office Building
Washington, DC 20515

Dear Representatives Denham and Norton,

Pursuant to our reporting obligations to Congress, I write to inform you of an incident that was brought to my attention by Acting Administrator Dan Tangherlini on July 11, 2012. On November 17, 2010, the Federal Acquisition Service (FAS) division of the General Services Administration (GSA) held a one-day performance award ceremony in the Washington, D.C., metropolitan area, featuring a drum band exercise by a third party vendor and speeches from current and former GSA officials. We have begun a preliminary analysis of the information we have received from the Agency and have opened an administrative investigation. Our initial findings show costs upwards of $268,732 for the one-day ceremony. Although these figures may be subject to change, our preliminary review showed the following.

• $34,073.38 for the ceremony venue at the Crystal Gateway Marriott including: o $20,738.78 in catering charges

o $13,334.60 in AV and room rental charges

• $7,697.22 for a “Commissioner’s Reception” at the Key Bridge Marriott including: o Hors d’oeuvres, beverages, and miniature pastries for 200 attendees

o A violinist and a guitarist

• $140,464.06 for “coordination and logistical management” by Gallagher & Gallagher, Inc. including: o $104,484.17 for logistics and management services

o $20,578.24 for 4,000 drumsticks given to attendees

o $5,390 for five 55-passenger buses, two mini-buses, and a van

o $10,010.65 for “Mission Possible Agent X” management

• $28,364.45 for 4,000 “time temperature picture frames” provided by Small Wonders.

• $7,810.24 for 68 shadowbox frames provided by Award Crafters.

• $8,587.73 for “Agent X appearance” by JDG Communications, Inc.

• $41,734.93 for travel for 49 attendees.

My office will continue to look into this ceremony in addition to our ongoing audits and investigations into other previous conferences. We will continue to update the Committee with any developments that emerge from our inquiry. Please feel free to contact me or Jennifer Riedinger of my staff at 202-501-4634 if you have any questions or if there is additional information we can provide.

Sincerely,

 

Brian D. Miller
Inspector General

 

July 19, 2012

The Honorable Brian D. Miller
Inspector General
General Services Administration
1800 F Street, N.W.
Washington, D.C.  20405

Dear Inspector General Miller:

Thank you for your July 19, 2012 letter outlining your initial findings regarding the November 17, 2010 General Services Administration (GSA) performance award ceremony.  Based on your preliminary review, this one-day performance award ceremony cost U.S. taxpayers approximately $268,732.  We are extremely concerned with this use of taxpayer funds and urge you to provide us additional information regarding the award ceremony.

Specifically, as Ranking Democratic Members of the Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure and Subcommittee on Economic Development, Public Buildings, and Emergency Management, we request any report, interim or otherwise, and any other supporting and relevant material that would aid the Committee in fully understanding the facts, findings, and implications surrounding this award ceremony or any other similar GSA conference or meeting.  We appreciate your continued efforts to address the past misuse of taxpayer funds and appreciate your assistance with this request.

Thank you for your consideration.

Sincerely,

Nick J. Rahall, II
Ranking Democratic Member                                 

Eleanor Holmes Norton Ranking Democratic Member
Subcomittee onEconomic Development,
Public Buildings, & Emergency Management