I want to take a moment and update you on my latest efforts to curb government waste.
As Chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, with jurisdiction over the General Services Administration (GSA), today I launched a new investigation in conjunction with the GSA Inspector General to investigate another abuse of the taxpayers by the GSA, this time a one-day awards ceremony held in Washington, DC for which the agency blew nearly $270,000.
Preliminary information we have received from the Inspector General indicates this GSA mega-waste conference held on November 17, 2010 cost taxpayers more than a quarter of a million dollars and rivals the lavish conference in Las Vegas a month earlier, which exercises oversight of the GSA.
House Transportation Committee staff are investigating new details that have emerged today about extravagant catering that cost over $20,000, more than $56,000 in awards and gifts, and tens of thousands of dollars in expensive entertainment that included a violinist and guitarist, not to mention a lavish commissioners reception that cost taxpayers over $7,600. GSA spent more than $20,000 on drumsticks for attendees, $28,000 on time temperature picture frames and $7,800 on shadowbox picture frames.
GSA’s pattern of waste and abuse continues. The agency has been wasting millions of dollars on junkets, private vacations, bonuses, gifts, and more, not to mention the millions it wastes by letting valuable federal properties sit empty for years. GSA officials thumbed their nose at Congress when they were asked to testify before the committee which oversees the agency, and GSA has a history of subverting the will of the President on salary freezes and Congress on real estate decisions. This out of control agency is not above the law, and the Transportation Committee will continue its work to investigate and reform this arrogant and wasteful agency.
The November 2010 awards ceremony was held at the Crystal Gateway Marriott and the Key Bridge Marriott in the Washington, DC area. The GSA IG’s initial estimate is that the ceremony cost a total of $268,732. The Transportation Committee will also continue to investigate the incident.
Be assured that I will continue to work to rout out waste, fraud and abuse in government. As always, your input on this or any other matter is always welcome.
John L. Mica, Member of Congress