The gifts, which would have been illegal for the employees to accept, included regular deliveries of flowers, concert tickets and free hotel rooms, sources said.
Location Solvers, based in Washington, describes itself on its Web site as a “premier hotel search firm” that finds sites for meetings, conventions, retreats and guest rooms. Among the clients it lists are the Department of Homeland Security. The GSA is not included.
In 2010 the GSA hired the company to select 14 hotels as venues for conferences and other agency functions, according to a briefing that Inspector General Brian Miller gave agency leaders. One of the hotels was the M Resort and Casino in Las Vegas, where the Public Buildings Service hosted a four-day meeting in 2010 that was investigated by Miller’s office.
Jahn, 42, did not return numerous phone calls and e-mails seeking comment.
Billed as team-building for 300 employees, the 2010 Western Regions conference featured private parties, a mind-reader, a talent show, extravagant food spreads and other entertainment. The cost to taxpayers was $823,000.
Location Solvers is one of numerous vendors — including a company that provided audio-
visual services for $59,000 and one that offered a bike-building exercise for $75,000 — whose services for the Las Vegas event were not competitively bid, as federal rules require.
Asked at a congressional hearing last week if he is looking into possibly illegal relationships between vendors and conference organizers, Miller said, “We’re looking at all of those things.” He also said he is investigating possible bribery and kickbacks in the agency. Federal employees cannot solicit or accept gifts over $20 from any entity doing business with their agency, or use their position to induce someone to provide a benefit to them, their friends or relatives.
The GSA, like most federal agencies, has several full-time planners who find hotels and arrange conferences and other events. But when Lisa Daniels, a national event planner for GSA, set out in 2009 to find a Las Vegas hotel for the conference, she sought the services of Location Solvers, according to transcripts. The transcripts are of interviews with Jeffrey Neely. Neely, the senior GSA executive hosting the conference, wanted an “over the top” event that would best past conferences, the inspector general noted in a report this month.
Minutes after posting a solicitation for the conference event online, Daniels contacted Jahn, a friend with whom she had done business, to let him know, according to the transcript.