(AP) GSA inspector probes $268K awards ceremony
By LAURIE KELLMAN
The General Services Administration spent more than $268,000 on a one-day awards ceremony, an inspector general told Congress Thursday, the latest revelation of lavish government conferences on the taxpayers’ tab.
In a letter Thursday to a House subcommittee, GSA Inspector General Brian D. Miller said he was investigating the Nov. 17, 2010 event in two Washington hotels that featured a drum band exercise and more than $50,000 in gifts and awards to attendees. Some of those, more than 4,000 drumsticks, cost more than $20,000.
Miller said the event was reported to him on July 11 by Dan Tangherlini, the scandalized agency’s acting administrator.
The GSA said in a statement that all spending for events had been suspended in April.
The new revelation comes after government watchdogs found that GSA officials in Western states went on taxpayer-financed junkets to Hawaii, South Pacific Islands and California’s Napa Valley and Palm Springs, where they stayed at resort hotels and threw lavish parties. The loudest outcry was over a 2010 Las Vegas conference, which featured a clown, mind reader and a rap video making fun of the excessive spending. The event for 300 employees cost $823,000, Miller reported.
In his letter to the House Economic Development, Public Buildings and Emergency Management Subcommittee, Miller said his preliminary investigation shows the event cost more than $268,732 for the one-day ceremony, which took place at the Crystal Gateway Marriott, and a “commissioner’s reception” for 200 attendees was held at the Key Bridge Marriott the same day, he reported.
Among his findings:
- $34,073 for the Crystal Gateway Marriott event, including $20,738 in catering charges;
- $7,697 for the Key Bridge Marriott reception, which included hors d’oeuvres, a violinist and guitarist;
- $104,464 for “coordination and logistical management” by a firm called Gallagher & Gallagher Inc., which included $104,484 for management services; $20,578 for 4,000 drumstick given to attendees; $5,390 for five buses, two mini-buses and a van and $10,010 for entertainment by “Mission Possible Agent X” management.
- $28,364 for 4,000 “time temperature picture frames” provided by Small Wonders;
- $7,810 for 68 shadowbox frames by Award Crafters;
- $8,588 for something called “Agent X appearance” by JDG Communications, Inc.;
- $41,735 for travel for 49 attendees.
Miller said his office is looking into the ceremony.