The Washington Post

Veterans Affairs agency under investigation for conference spending

The savings in meeting, conference, training and travel costs represent “one step in the ongoing top-to-bottom review of all agency operations,” the agency said in a statement.

Since he took office in April, Acting Administrator Dan Tangherlini has canceled 47 conferences and limited approved travel to “necessary and essential functions,” the statement said. Tangherlini also has slashed $500,000 in executive bonuses and put in a place a hiring freeze through the end of the fiscal year Sept. 30.

President Obama appointed Tangherlini to step in after GSA head Martha Johnson and her top deputies were forced out by excessive spending on a conference at a luxury hotel off the Las Vegas strip.

The “Western Regions” conference, sponsored by the agency’s Public Buildings Service and revealed by the GSA inspector general, was billed as a training exercise but was little more than a four-day entertainment junket costing $823,000. Besides Johnson and PBS chief Robert Peck, numerous leaders were forced out as a result.

Lisa Rein covers the federal workforce and issues that concern the management of government.

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