Sen. Lawton Chiles (D-Fla.), chairman of the Senate Governmental Affairs subcommittee on federal spending, yesterday scheduled two days of hearings on what he termed the current series of scandals which are plaguing the General Services Administration."
GSA is the government agency that provides other government agencies with office space and supplies. It spends about $4 billion a year.
Chiles said the hearings to be held June 22-23, will focus on the apparent fact that "a considerable number of GSA employes have either been corrupted by government contractors or have insisted on being corrupted by them to the tune of millions of dollars, and the apparent criminal involvement of scores of federal employees and contractors."
This was a reference to findings in parallel investigations by the U.S. attorney's offices in Washington and Baltimore that some GSA employes have received cash and gifts from companies in return for certifying that the companies provided GSA with office supplies that were not provided or repairs and maintenance work that were never done.
Chiles said he was "particularly distrubed" by a report in The Washington Post that GSA instructed some of its employees to spend money at the end of the last fiscal year because not enough of the agency's budget had been spent during the year. GSA auditors found that as a result, GSA awarded contracts to do work that was never exactly specified at prices that were not named" The Post story said.
"Since I am also chairman of GSA's appropriation subcommittee," Chiles said, "I intend to address that topic as well. It is not going to do us much good if we stop the stealing and then lose more money through carelessness inefficiency and waste."
In a related development, Sen. Lloyd M. Bentsen (D-Tex.), in a letter to Sen. Abraham A. Ribicoff (D-Conn.), chairman of the full Governmental Affairs Committee, requested hearings on what he called the "outrage that GSA went on a spending spree last year to prevent its budget from being reduced."