GSA Staffer Pleads the Fifth on Waste, Hand-Wringing Ensues

By:  Thomas R. Eddlem
04/18/2012
       
GSA Staffer Pleads the Fifth on Waste, Hand-Wringing Ensues

 The U.S. General Services Administration official responsible for a $822,000 Las Vegas party on the tab of the U.S. taxpayer refused to answer any questions before the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform April 16, followed by hand-wringing by former GSA head Martha Johnson. Hearings also revealed that the GSA employees may have stolen iPods purchased for an employee incentive program.

 
 

The U.S. General Services Administration official responsible for a $822,000 Las Vegas party on the tab of the U.S. taxpayer refused to answer any questions before the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform April 16, followed by hand-wringing by former GSA head Martha Johnson. Hearings also revealed that the GSA employees may have stolen iPods purchased for an employee incentive program.

 
Jeff Neely (photo), the Western States Public Buildings Service Regional Commissioner for GSA, repeatedly told Committee Chairman Darrell Issa (R-CA) "I respectfully decline to answer any questions here today based on my Fifth Amendment constitutional privileges.”
 
Neely's fear of facing criminal charges is not entirely theoretical. Congressman Jeff Denham (R-Calif.) pledged during hearings April 17 that "Where crimes have been committed, people will go to jail." Moreover, a report released April 2 by the GSA Office of Inspector General (OIG) on the 2010 Western Regions Conference found five blatant violations of law in addition to a litany of incidents of technically legal but poor stewardship of taxpayer dollars. “The OIG found that many of the expenditures on this conference were excessive and wasteful and that in many instances GSA followed neither federal procurement laws nor its own policy on conference spending.” The OIG estimated the price of the conference at $822,751, which featured extravagant catering and a satirical “American Idle” music video contest poking fun at wasting taxpayer dollars (won by a Hawaiian office staffer).
 
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