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GSA Roundup: ‘Jackass’ award, intern getaway, no reunion at the ‘M’

Daily highlights in the wake of GSA’s extravagant conference spending.

The hits keep coming for the General Services Administration. On Thursday, Roll Call uncovered yet another interview transcript between an employee and the inspector general. This one alleges that the agency invents awards to give to its employees at conferences to justify taxpayer reimbursement for meals. The specific prize this employee offered up as an example? The Jackass Award -- something you might not want to display on your mantel.

If you’re interning anywhere in government except GSA, you could be missing out. New inspector general interviews released by the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee reveal that 120 GSA interns and 20 executives attended a five-day conference in 2010 specifically for interns, the Associated Press reported. The conference location? Palm Springs, Calif.

According to the employee who spoke with the inspector general, the executives worked around a $71-a-day expense allowance by holding, yes, awards ceremonies. “Finger food” served at these ceremonies included pasta, prime rib and half-shell oysters.

The GOP and the White House are in a spat over the price tags of past GSA conferences. According to documents released Thursday by the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, the biennial Public Buildings Service Western Regions Conference cost $401,024 in 2004, and not $93,000 as the White House had originally claimed, Politico reported. This means that conference spending actually decreased from 2004 to 2006, contradicting the Obama administration’s claims that GSA spending first started ballooning out of control during the George W. Bush administration.

GSA already has moved to cancel a series of four small business conferences that were scheduled to take place over the next year, Fox News reported Thursday. Three were scheduled to take place in Honolulu, Phoenix and Oakland, while the fourth was a planned two-day return to Las Vegas’ M Resort.

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