The alleged offenses of Region 9: What GSA investigators found
The General Services Administration is facing heat for extravagances purchased with taxpayer money. While a lavish employee conference in Las Vegas has gained major attention, it's not the only focus of the House Subcommittee on Economic Development, Public Buildings and Emergency Management, which is handling the investigation. Here are the items they're scrutinizing, according to a briefing released by a subcommittee:
The Western Regional Conference
- Costing $822,751, the Western Regional Conference rolled up charges of $136,504 in 8 pre-conference scouting trips alone. The GSA allegedly promised the hotel $41,580 in catering charges in exchange for the hotel charging only up to the government limit in lodging fees. GSA spent $146,527.05 on catered food during the conference, including $44 a person for breakfast.
- The GSA also allegedly purchased mementos for conference attendees, clothing for their employees and paid for employees' tuxedo rentals.
The Hats Off Program
- The "Hats Off Program" began with employees being given virtual "cards" with values as a reward for a work-related accomplishment. They could then use these accumulated cards as currency in the "Hats Off Store."
- Between 2009 and 2011, the GSA spent $440,000 on the Hats Off Program
- The award system was allegedly abused, with top awards going to the administrators of the program, award certificates being stolen and employees giving themselves rewards.
- The awards themselves included iPods, digital cameras, GPS devices and other electronics, which far exceeded the $99 per item limit established by the GSA.
- The investigation also found that there was a 2010 GSA conference hosted by Region 9 at the Palm Springs Riviera resort, which was attended by 120 interns and 20 senior staffers.
- The GSA's management of government-owned properties is also being questioned, with net revenues from GSA-owned buildings dropping by $274 million between 2010 and 2011. Buildings that GSA leases also saw revenue decline by $133 million in 2011.