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Mon Apr 2, 2012, 10:00 PM

 

GSA head resigns over "wasteful" Las Vegas seminar

Source: CNN

(CNN) -- The head of the General Services Administration resigned Monday after a scathing report that called government spending on a training seminar in Las Vegas "excessive, wasteful, and in some cases impermissible."

The White House put out a statement that President Barack Obama was "outraged" when he found out about the spending.

<SNIP>

A GSA Inspector General's report on the 2010 GSA "Western Regions" training conference in Las Vegas shows the government spent more than $822,000 for the 300 attendees, including $75,000 on team building exercises, $6,000 on commemorative coins and $6,000 on canteens, keychains and T-shirts.

Read more: http://www.cnn.com/2012/04/02/politics/gsa-head-resigns/index.html?iref=allsearch

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Reply GSA head resigns over "wasteful" Las Vegas seminar (Original post)
IamK Apr 2012 OP
Richardo Apr 2012 #1
Psephos Apr 2012 #2
enlightenment Apr 2012 #3
itsrobert Apr 2012 #15
wordpix Apr 2012 #4
xtraxritical Apr 2012 #6
IamK Apr 2012 #5
FarCenter Apr 2012 #7
DeSwiss Apr 2012 #8
wordpix Apr 2012 #10
Alcibiades Apr 2012 #9
wordpix Apr 2012 #11
Alcibiades Apr 2012 #17
Blue_Tires Apr 2012 #13
The Northerner Apr 2012 #12
Egalitarian Thug Apr 2012 #14
Alcibiades Apr 2012 #16
Egalitarian Thug Apr 2012 #18
MADem Apr 2012 #20
ilikeitthatway Apr 2012 #19
coalition_unwilling Apr 2012 #21

Response to IamK (Original post)

Mon Apr 2, 2012, 10:08 PM

1. How stupid.

As an extra added embarrassment, now whoever the GOP senator was who had the nomination on hold can crow all about it.

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Response to IamK (Original post)

Mon Apr 2, 2012, 10:13 PM

2. No wonder he's touchy about this GSA boondoggle.

2009 - Obama scolded corporations using federal bailout money: “You can’t go take a trip to Las Vegas or go down to the Super Bowl on the taxpayer’s dime.”

2010 - Obama told families not to gamble away college tuition: “You don’t blow a bunch of cash in Vegas when you’re trying to save for college.”

Harry Reid finally had to tell the President, "Lay off Las Vegas!"

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Response to Psephos (Reply #2)

Mon Apr 2, 2012, 10:22 PM

3. Sounds like the spending could have happened anywhere.

They didn't spend it on entertainment and gaming, they blew it on door-prizes (sounds like).

Obama does have hair-trigger about Vegas, though.

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Response to enlightenment (Reply #3)


Response to IamK (Original post)

Mon Apr 2, 2012, 10:26 PM

4. $2740/person and what kind of training at a Las Vegas casino?

O was right to be outraged, but this is just a small drop in the taxpayer dollar waste bin. How about what's going on over at the DOD? The billions wasted there should be investigated.

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Response to wordpix (Reply #4)

Mon Apr 2, 2012, 10:51 PM

6. In Riverside county in Southern California

 

city council members and other low level bureaucrats drive taxpayer provided Chrysler 300s and have city issued credit cards for expenses (Riverside is extremely conservative republican). This is obscene and going on all over the country. Also, how about those asset forfeiture laws? The right wingnuts always use "get the government off our backs" as a talking point but enact laws that give them the power to step on the peoples necks. As to wordpix's post - $2740 (if it includes travel) does not seem alarming and repubs do just as much Las Vegas conventioning. I think the article was a troll plant.

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Response to IamK (Original post)

Mon Apr 2, 2012, 10:32 PM

5. the planners also $pent like $136K for a pre-event planning trip.. tough work...

 

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/04/02/martha-johnson-gsa-head-resigns-las-vegas-conference_n_1397990.html



The conference also spent $75,000 for a training exercise to assemble 24 bikes that were later donated at the agency's direction to the Boys' and Girls' Club. Any equipment purchased with taxpayer dollars is supposed to be sold during government sales, but planners attempted to skirt those rules by having the trainers claim ownership of the cycles.

Planners spent $31,000 on a "networking reception" that featured $19-per-person "American artisanal cheese display" and a $7,000 in sushi. Taxpayers also footed the bill for a $3,200 session with a mind reader, $5,600 for in-room parties, $3,700 for T-shirts and almost $2,800 in water bottles.

A separate cocktail reception included $1,500 for "Boursin scalloped potato with Barolo wine-braised short ribs" and a $525 bartender fee for a cash bar. A senior official spent $2,700 to entertain other employees after the closing dinner. And three officials spent almost $400 for rented tuxedos.

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Response to IamK (Original post)

Mon Apr 2, 2012, 11:05 PM

7. At the M Resort Spa and Casino in Henderson, NV

Owned by Penn National Gaming.

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Response to IamK (Original post)

Mon Apr 2, 2012, 11:13 PM

8. K&R



- Hey, it's worth a shot. Selling T-shirts and trinkets is honorable entrepreneurship in a Capitalist society. And we need to be bringin' in all we can, to help bring down the deficit.......

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Response to DeSwiss (Reply #8)

Mon Apr 2, 2012, 11:51 PM

10. yeah, we need more water bottles, too, so we can drown some more in plastic

Not to mention the mind reader. I love for my taxes to go to those people

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Response to IamK (Original post)

Mon Apr 2, 2012, 11:15 PM

9. This sort of thing goes on all the time

$30,000 for catering for 300 is not all that bad, I guess, though it would have been cheaper to give them a per diem. Which they probably also did.

What gets me is that this is not unique to government. This happens in the coporate sector all the time, and no one bats an eye: what's more, the tax code encourages this sort of thing. It also happens with nonprofits.

In addition to the obvious points about the virtues of artisanal cheeses, though, what's left unsaid is what a colossal waste of time and money most of these various meetings, whether they are "trainings" or "conferences," really are. The educational content is usually either esoteric, irrelevant, obvious or useless, sometimes all at the same time. There's a cottage industry that produces management fads just so there is something to talk about at these conferences. Many of the speakers are actually less experienced and knowledgable than the people they are addressing.

Whether it's government, business or nonprofits, there's a multibillion dollar industry dedicated to sending people, usually already only the most well-compensated people, to places such as Florida and Nevada on someone else's dime to learn things they aleady know and meet people they probably don't really want to meet. It's absurd.

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Response to Alcibiades (Reply #9)

Mon Apr 2, 2012, 11:56 PM

11. "Many of the speakers are actually less experienced and knowledgable than the people they ..address"

How true; I've experienced this myself going to "training" sessions. There was one I went to at work (a school) that lasted 2 weeks and in the end, we could not use the program b/c it was stupid, unwieldy and took an inordinate amt. of time. Some colleagues and I spent 1/2 day streamlining the program so it was usable in a very revised way. In the end, the company asked us what we did to make it work. They had no clue.

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Response to wordpix (Reply #11)

Tue Apr 3, 2012, 11:38 PM

17. That's awesome

You could have gotten a check as a consultant, right there. At least get a dinner out of them. "I'll meet you to discuss it."

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Response to Alcibiades (Reply #9)

Tue Apr 3, 2012, 02:07 PM

13. Yeah, they need those locations to sweeten the pot

I promise you no one is flying to Boise for a few days, no matter how plush the hotel...

I guess folks see it as a quasi-paid vacation, without burning your vacation days...And if you're having a fling with a co-worker, these conferences away from the spouse are like mini-honeymoons

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Response to IamK (Original post)

Tue Apr 3, 2012, 01:46 PM

12. K&R n/t

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Response to IamK (Original post)

Tue Apr 3, 2012, 04:11 PM

14. Reading these replies I have to wonder if any of the respondents have ever

 

put on any event like this? $20 a pop for trinkets, that's an outrage? Sure it's not essential, but hardly out of line with today's pricing anywhere, and we are the very best at doing this in the nation, hands down, nobody else comes close. Putting on a conference in California, New York, Philadelphia, Florida, DC, or even Arizona costs much more. And just in case you're worried about the attendees having such a great time debauching in Sin City that they got nothing out of it, 'M' is a $30 cab ride off the strip.

Pick a Senator, any Senator and look at their expenditures for a staff lunch.

Do you know that this is one of the worst economies in the nation? And this is the totality of our economy, there's nothing else here beyond call centers and credit card processing.

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Response to Egalitarian Thug (Reply #14)

Tue Apr 3, 2012, 11:36 PM

16. I'm sure it's all quite nice

I love Las Vegas. What gets me is that most of these conferences for middle and upper management are full of "team building exercises" and other such things that are, in a word, bullshit. Most of the time, the money would be better spent on raises for the folks who do the actual work, rather than yet another perquisite for management.

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Response to Alcibiades (Reply #16)

Wed Apr 4, 2012, 04:52 PM

18. I don't disagree, but that's a different conversation. I've been to quite a few of these

 

conferences over the years and they seem to be, primarily a tax deductible vacation to justify irrelevant and unproductive jobs, usually held by some executive's relative/boy/girlfriend.

It's especially irritating when they hold it right in the middle of an important project.

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Response to Egalitarian Thug (Reply #14)

Mon Apr 9, 2012, 11:03 AM

20. As someone who worked in government (DOD specifically) for decades, GSA has always been fucked up.

They've come under scrutiny often in the last several decades, and they've come up short time and time again. This is something that crosses party lines, it's been going on since Reagan and the Cold War buildup, if not longer.

Anyone working at GSA really needs to have the disposition and character of Caesar's wife. For some reason, that's not happening--there's an entrenched culture of civil servants who were once grace-and-favour appointees in that outfit that are harder to shift than blueberry stains. It is a culture that needs to change, though--they are very wasteful and inefficient and rigid. The frigging Inspector General's office also has a problem in this regard over the years as well. They're worse in many ways--just nowhere near as big as GSA.

Congressional abuse of monies is also disgraceful, but two wrongs don't make a right. I personally think that all congressional reps in both chambers should be required to put their quarterly budgets up on their websites--in a line-item fashion. That would cut down on a lot of the bullshit.

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Response to IamK (Original post)

Sun Apr 8, 2012, 07:19 PM

19. I saw this on CNN

Already, the Right is using this as a weapon against Obama.

Too bad that Bush boy's cronies' antics weren't documented.

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Response to ilikeitthatway (Reply #19)

Mon Apr 9, 2012, 11:42 AM

21. Well, there was that Bush domestic policy advisor arrested for

 

credit card fraud. IIRC, he would buy something and stash it in his car, then return to the store with receipt in hand, get the same item off the shelf and take it to the return counter as if he was returning the item. Result: a lot of swag for free, at least until he was busted.

A fiendishly clever scheme, almost as good as WMD in post-1993 Iraq.

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