[WASHINGTON, D.C.] - Assistant Majority Leader and Chairman of the Senate Appropriations Financial Services and General Government Subcommittee, Dick Durbin (D-IL), chaired a hearing today to review the report of the General Services Administration's (GSA) Inspector General report on the agency’s 2010 Western Regions Conference which was marred by outrageous spending and mismanagement of taxpayer funds. The hearing, which was scheduled long before the Inspector General’s report was issued, also discussed GSA’s FY13 budget request.
“The GSA’s Western Regions Conference was outrageous. Excessive spending and a brazen disregard for existing Federal law have tarnished the public perceptions of the entire Federal workforce,” Durbin said. “Despite the astounding lack of judgment, I am hopeful that with new leadership, this will never be repeated. Our subcommittee will be holding the new GSA leadership to a higher standard of accountability.”
On April 2nd, the GSA Inspector General (IG) released a report on a 4-day conference held in October 2010 for 300 employees of the Public Buildings Service (PBS) in the western U.S. The report found excessive, wasteful, and in some cases, impermissible spending as well as contracting irregularities. All told, the conference cost taxpayers at least $830,000. As a result of the investigation, GSA Administrator Martha Johnson resigned after firing Public Buildings Commissioner Bob Peck and top counselor Steven Leeds. In addition, ten employees have been placed on administrative leave.
GSA Acting Administrator Dan Tangherlini and Inspector General Brian Miller testified at today’s hearing. A copy of their testimony is attached along with a copy of Senator Durbin’s opening statement.
Today’s hearing also focused on GSA’s ability to fulfill its core functions and meet the future space needs of the federal government in a time of fiscal restraint. The limited approval to spend has affected its Federal Building Fund, which finances property management for the government. Reduction in construction and repair projects will hamper federal agencies’ ability to operate efficiently and without full funding to meet its contractual obligations, GSA is legally liable for default.
The FY13 budget request for GSA is $272 million, a $33 million increase from the FY12 enacted level with the majority of the requested increase going towards the modernization and continued operation of a government-wide information system to improve the way contracts and grants are rewarded, managed and reported.