U.S. procurement chief quits as agency accused of waste

WASHINGTON Tue Apr 3, 2012 7:18am IST

Related Topics

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The head of the U.S. government's federal procurement office is resigning and two senior officials have been dismissed ahead of a report criticizing the agency's lavish spending on an "over the top" training conference, the White House said on Monday.

Many expenditures by the General Services Administration for the October 2010 conference at a resort outside Las Vegas were "excessive and wasteful" and violated the agency's own policies, said a report by the GSA's Office of Inspector General.

GSA spent $820,000 on the October 25-29 gathering at M Resort Spa Casino, a cost that included pre-conference scouting trips, a "red carpet" dinner with "theatrical talent" and a post-dinner wrap party in a loft suite, according to an executive summary of the report made public on Monday.

GSA Administrator Martha Johnson submitted her resignation to the White House on Monday. The inspector general's report first came to the attention of the White House in early March.

The report cited eight 'scouting trips' and pre-conference meetings that cost over $130,000 and travel by 31 GSA employees to the M Resort on a 'dry run' prior to the event as examples of excessive spending and waste.

Other questionable expenses detailed in the report include clothing purchases for GSA employees, tuxedo rentals and semi-private, catered parties in officials' hotel rooms or loft suites. A $75,000 contract was also awarded to a vendor for a team-building exercise that included the purchase of 24 bikes, the report said.

"When the White House was informed of the Inspector General's findings we acted quickly to determine who was responsible for such a gross misuse of taxpayer dollars," White House Chief of Staff Jack Lew said in a statement.

GSA administrator Johnson fired two senior GSA officials and took disciplinary actions against others and ultimately decided that as the head of the agency she is accountable, senior White House officials said.

The report concluded that keeping costs down for the conference was not a goal and that several suggestions to minimize expenses were ignored.

It says one administrator instructed the conference planners to make it "over the top" and to make it bigger and better than previous Western Regions conferences.

(Reporting by JoAnne Allen; Editing by Lisa Shumaker)

FILED UNDER:

Religion and Politics

REUTERS SHOWCASE

Fund Raising

Fund Raising

Flipkart raises $700 million in fresh funding.   Full Article 

Reforms Push

Reforms Push

Modi may order insurance, coal reforms if vote delayed - officials.  Full Article 

Reuters Exclusive

Reuters Exclusive

India looks to sway Americans with nuclear power insurance plan  Full Article 

To Boost Growth

To Boost Growth

Crank up public spending to revive growth - chief economic adviser.   Full Article 

Bold Steps

Bold Steps

SpiceJet rescue plan marks bold bet on Indian aviation recovery.   Full Article 

New Airline

New Airline

Tata, Singapore Air venture Vistara to take off on Jan 9.  Full Article 

Online Sales

Online Sales

Knock knock. Who's there? Amazon's best-selling holiday author.  Full Article 

Hacking Attack

Hacking Attack

N.Korea says did not hack Sony, wants joint probe with U.S.  Full Article 

Reuters Poll

Reuters Poll

BSE Sensex to hit 32,980 by December 2015  Full Article 

Reuters India Mobile

Reuters India Mobile

Get the latest news on the go. Visit Reuters India on your mobile device  Full Coverage