President Obama was outraged to learn that his General Services Administration (GSA), rather than saving taxpayers' money, had blown $822,751 for a "team building" meeting in Las Vegas. He demanded "full accountability" of all involved, and most of them have resigned or been placed on leave. But your money? Well, once spent in Vegas, it will probably stay in Vegas.
While President Obama directed the GSA to get some of your money back, it's doubtful the clown, mind reader or comedian hired by the GSA to perform at the event will feel inclined to give their fees back. And the exclusive M Resort Spa Casino and Ritz Carlton Hotel will probably keep the $136,504 spent to house 20 GSA employees in deluxe suites during eight (8) pre-conference "scouting" trips.
A full accounting of this cased of wanton waste is included in a detailed report from the GSA's Office of Inspector General (OIG) to Martha N. Johnson, the now-resigned GSA administrator.
"The OIG 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," wrote GSA's inspector general Brian D. Miller.
Laws Broken, Policies Ignored: The OIG's report is truly a litany of government purchasing laws broken and policies not followed. According to Miller, the GSA broke the law and its own policy by awarding a $58,000 contract for audio-visual services to a large business, rather than a small business, and agreeing to pay the hotel an additional $41,480 in catering charges in exchange for the "concession" of the hotel honoring the government's lodging cost limit.
They Ate Well on Your Dime: The OIG report shows that GSA spent $146,527.05 just on catered food and beverages during the conference. That spending included $5,600 for three semi-private catered in-room parties and $44 per person for daily breakfasts. Did you ever spend $44 for breakfast? GSA also paid $30,207.60 -- or roughly $95 per person -- for the closing reception and dinner.
The "networking reception" on the conference's first evening included 400 pieces of $4.75 "Petit Beef Wellington," 400 "Mini Monte Cristo Sandwiches" at $5.00 each, 1,000 sushi rolls for $7.00 apiece, 150 units of a $19 per person "American Artisanal Cheese Display," and 225 units of a $16 per person "Pasta Reception Station."
Well, after all, the GSA's goal was to make sure the conference was "over the top" and was "bigger and better than previous conferences." Mission accomplished.