The General Services Administration is the "nation's premier federal acquisition and procurement agency."
On its website under a subhead titled "How GSA Benefits The Federal Government" is the following explanation of what it does for the feds:
"GSA oversees the business of the U.S. federal government. GSA's acquisition solutions supplies federal purchasers with cost-effective high-quality products and services from commercial vendors. GSA provides workplaces for federal employees, and oversees the preservation of historic federal properties. Its policies covering travel, property and management practices promote efficient government operations."
Sounds like they are experts in procurement, right? Sounds like they save us taxpayers all kinds of money, huh?
Well, last week the head of the agency, Administrator Martha N. Johnson, resigned after it came to light that some $823,000 of taxpayer money was spent on a training conference for 300 Western Region GSA employees at a posh resort just south of Las Vegas.
According to The Washington Post, GSA spent $130,000 for six "scouting trips" to the hotel; $2,000 for a party in an administrator's suite; $5,600 for three semi-private catered in-room parties; $44 per person for daily breakfasts; $75,000 for a "team-building" exercise - how to build a bicycle; $146,000 on catered food and drinks; $6,325 on commemorative coins in velvet boxes for all participants; $31,208 for a "networking" reception; and $8,130 for yearbooks with participants' pictures in them.
Oh, and they had a "Talent Contest," too. The winner was a video entitled "Federal Worker, American Idle" which begins by showing an employee with a ukulele sitting with his feet up on his desk singing. It then switches to a rap song where he brags he'll "never by investigated by the OIG" - that's the Office of Investigator General.
Hmmm . . . these are the folks who are the government's experts in procurement. Well, they certainly procured a lot for themselves out there in Nevada.
A couple of other heads besides Johnson's have rolled but the government has mostly responded in true bureaucratic fashion.
Again, according to the Post, the main solution is "Employees will be required to take mandatory training in conference planning.
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