Fedblog FedblogFedblog
Government Executive Editor in Chief Tom Shoop, along with other editors and staff correspondents, look at the federal bureaucracy from the outside in.

A Little Perspective on the GSA Scandal

The Hostile Grape lounge is in the M Resort and Casino in Las Vegas. The Hostile Grape lounge is in the M Resort and Casino in Las Vegas. Flickr user roundnoon

Nobody is defending the decision of  Public Buildings Service officials to hold the now-infamous over-the-top Western Regions Conference in 2010. (By my count, only one person so far is even making the case that the firings of top officials were excessive.)

Still, when everybody from members of Congress to Jon Stewart is declaring that this whole situation is particularly bad because GSA is charged with saving the federal government money, it's important to note that this is exactly what GSA does, and continues to do, even as this sideshow continues.

To take just one example: A year ago, GSA negotiated new airline contracts for federal agencies to use for official travel. The rates are 70 percent below standard commercial fares, on average. That will save the government an estimated $7.4 billion in airline ticket fees this fiscal year. If my math is right, that works out to more than $20 million a day, or a little more than $844,000 an hour. So using the savings, GSA could fund one lavish PBS conference an hour for the whole year.

Not that it should, of course. Waste is waste. But it's important to keep it in perspective. 

Tom Shoop is vice president and editor in chief at Government Executive Media Group, where he oversees both print and online editorial operations. He started as associate editor of Government Executive magazine in 1989; launched the company’s flagship website, GovExec.com, in 1996; and was named editor in chief in 2007.

Close [ x ] More from GovExec

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from GovExec.com.
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Sponsored by G Suite

    Cross-Agency Teamwork, Anytime and Anywhere

    Dan McCrae, director of IT service delivery division, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)

  • Data-Centric Security vs. Database-Level Security

    Database-level encryption had its origins in the 1990s and early 2000s in response to very basic risks which largely revolved around the theft of servers, backup tapes and other physical-layer assets. As noted in Verizon’s 2014, Data Breach Investigations Report (DBIR)1, threats today are far more advanced and dangerous.

  • Federal IT Applications: Assessing Government's Core Drivers

    In order to better understand the current state of external and internal-facing agency workplace applications, Government Business Council (GBC) and Riverbed undertook an in-depth research study of federal employees. Overall, survey findings indicate that federal IT applications still face a gamut of challenges with regard to quality, reliability, and performance management.

  • PIV- I And Multifactor Authentication: The Best Defense for Federal Government Contractors

    This white paper explores NIST SP 800-171 and why compliance is critical to federal government contractors, especially those that work with the Department of Defense, as well as how leveraging PIV-I credentialing with multifactor authentication can be used as a defense against cyberattacks

  • Toward A More Innovative Government

    This research study aims to understand how state and local leaders regard their agency’s innovation efforts and what they are doing to overcome the challenges they face in successfully implementing these efforts.

  • From Volume to Value: UK’s NHS Digital Provides U.S. Healthcare Agencies A Roadmap For Value-Based Payment Models

    The U.S. healthcare industry is rapidly moving away from traditional fee-for-service models and towards value-based purchasing that reimburses physicians for quality of care in place of frequency of care.

  • GBC Flash Poll: Is Your Agency Safe?

    Federal leaders weigh in on the state of information security


When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.