The prepared statements for this afternoon’s House hearing on the General Services Administration have been released, with both the investigator whose report brought the controversial 2010 conference to light and the former agency head decrying the cost of the meeting and the behavior of agency employees there.
The hearing is the first of four planned for this week triggered by a report by GSA Inspector General Brian D. Miller, who says in his statement that some in the agency “seemed to have forgotten that they have a special responsibility to the taxpayers to spend their money wisely and economically.”
“The core mission of GSA is to provide low cost goods and services. When GSA wastes its own money, how can other agencies trust it to handle the taxpayer dollars given to them?” Miller asks in his prepared statement.
Also released is the statement of former GSA administrator Martha N. Johnson, who resigned in the wake of the report; several other top officials have either been fired or suspended.
Johnson says in her statement that when she returned to GSA in early 2010, after having served there during the Clinton administration, the conference at issue “which had been an economical, straightforward set of training sessions in the late 1990s, had evolved into a raucous, extravagant, arrogant, self-congratulatory event that ultimately belittled federal workers and would stain the very work that other committed staff and I were preparing to do. Leaders apparently competed to show their people how much entertainment they could provide, rather than how much performance capability they could build. The expensive planning for that conference was well underway when I entered GSA, and I was unaware of the scope,” she says in her statement.
“I am extremely aggrieved by the gall of a handful of people to misuse federal tax dollars, twist contracting rules and defile the great name of the General Services Administration. Further, I am affronted by the insensitivity of the leaders to the culture they were condoning and am appalled that a handful of people can undercut public confidence in GSA and, indeed, all of government,” her statement says.
Four other GSA officials were invited to testify but prepared statements from them were not made available.