Photo Gallery: GSA’s $800,000 conference, in visual form

Flickr user Miss Shari

Memories were made at the General Services Administration’s 2010 Public Buildings Service Western Regions Conference, held at the luxurious M Resort just outside of Las Vegas. So many memories, in fact, that the agency spent more than $6,400 on commemorative coins for conference participants.

Two years later, those coins -- and the rest of the more than $800,000 GSA spent on the four-day conference -- are creating the wrong kinds of memories for American taxpayers: those of an agency that preaches the values of frugal spending while simultaneously instructing its own conference planners to make an event “over the top.”

GSA Administrator Martha Johnson resigned Monday and two other agency officials -- Senior Counselor to the Administrator Stephen Leeds and PBS head Bob Peck -- were fired in advance of a damning report from the GSA inspector general calling the conference spending “excessive, wasteful and in some cases impermissible.” That “over the top” instruction was real, too: A PBS Acting Regional Administrator wrote it in an email to organizers.

Pre-conference planning involved two “scouting trips,” five off-site planning meetings and a “dry run” of the event. The opening night reception included a $19-per-person “American Artisanal Cheese Display.” Participants received “yearbooks” on their last night containing photos of every conference attendee taken when they checked into the hotel.

For those of us not fortunate enough to have attended the conference or one of its planning sessions, we have compiled our own “yearbook” of the key players in the event and its aftermath. Commemorative coins not included.


Stay up-to-date with federal news alerts and analysis — Sign up for GovExec's email newsletters.
Close [ x ] More from GovExec

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from
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.

  • Sponsored by One Identity

    One Nation Under Guard: Securing User Identities Across State and Local Government

    In 2016, the government can expect even more sophisticated threats on the horizon, making it all the more imperative that agencies enforce proper identity and access management (IAM) practices. In order to better measure the current state of IAM at the state and local level, Government Business Council (GBC) conducted an in-depth research study of state and local employees.

  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    The Next Federal Evolution of Cloud

    This GBC report explains the evolution of cloud computing in federal government, and provides an outlook for the future of the cloud in government IT.

  • Sponsored by LTC Partners, administrators of the Federal Long Term Care Insurance Program

    Approaching the Brink of Federal Retirement

    Approximately 10,000 baby boomers are reaching retirement age per day, and a growing number of federal employees are preparing themselves for the next chapter of their lives. Learn how to tackle the challenges that today's workforce faces in laying the groundwork for a smooth and secure retirement.

  • Sponsored by Hewlett Packard Enterprise

    Cyber Defense 101: Arming the Next Generation of Government Employees

    Read this issue brief to learn about the sector's most potent challenges in the new cyber landscape and how government organizations are building a robust, threat-aware infrastructure

  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    GBC Issue Brief: Cultivating Digital Services in the Federal Landscape

    Read this GBC issue brief to learn more about the current state of digital services in the government, and how key players are pushing enhancements towards a user-centric approach.


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