Oklahoman: U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe calls for Senate hearing on federal agency's lavish Las Vegas conference
April 4, 2012
Posted by Matt Dempsey email@example.com
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U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe calls for Senate hearing on federal agency's lavish Las Vegas conference
Inhofe's request follows inspector general report about an $820,000 training conference held in 2010 in Las Vegas by the federal agency responsible for much of the government's property management.
By Chris Casteel | Published: April 4, 2012
WASHINGTON - Sen. Jim Inhofe called Tuesday for the Senate committee that oversees the General Services Administration to hold a hearing into the agency's lavish spending at a Las Vegas conference that led to the resignation of the director and the firing of two deputies.
Inhofe, R-Tulsa, sent a letter requesting a hearing to Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., the chairman of the Environmental and Public Works Committee. Inhofe is the top Republican on the panel.
The inspector general of the General Services Administration released an investigative report this week about an agency training conference in 2010 at a resort in Las Vegas. The four-day conference, with about 300 attendees, mostly government employees and contractors, cost nearly $823,000.
A few agency employees spent more than $136,000 "scouting" Las Vegas hotels to plan for the conference, which ultimately cost more than $146,000 for catered food alone - including breakfasts that cost $44 per person.
According to the inspector general, federal laws and agency rules were violated in the way contractors were hired and money was spent for the conference.
"GSA spending on conference planning was excessive, wasteful and in some cases impermissible," the report states.
The GSA manages much of the federal government's property; the division responsible for the Las Vegas conference was the Public Buildings Service. GSA administrator
Martha N. Johnson submitted her resignation on Monday as the report became public. Two of her top deputies were forced out on Monday, The Washington Post reported.
Inhofe requested that the inspector general be called to testify at a hearing of the committee.
He said the committee has a "long bipartisan tradition of responsible oversight of the federal agencies under its jurisdiction. We now have the opportunity to restore the public's trust and make certain that federal agencies are acting in the best interest of the American people."
U.S. Rep. John Mica, R-Fla., the chairman of the House committee that oversees the GSA, said Tuesday that he would hold a hearing on the conference.
"It is outrageous that this agency, which costs the taxpayers billions because it's sitting on its assets, would spend nearly a million dollars on a Vegas junket," Mica said. "The tab even included a clown for entertainment. This is just the tip of the iceberg. We have been trying to get the administrative costs from the agency and now we see why they have been stonewalling."