The government official on the frontlines of the scandal involving a wasteful government conference, U.S. General Services Administration regional commissioner Jeffrey Neely, will invoke his 5th amendment right against self-incrimination, his lawyer Preston Burton tells ABC News. He won’t comment on the $822,751 conference, many of the expenditures for which the GSA Inspector General called “excessive” and “wasteful.” He won’t comment on the bizarre awards ceremony, or the commemorative coins, the mind-reader/motivational speaker.
Mr. Neely bares a bit more in a photo collection on his wife’s Google+ page. There visitors can see photos of Neely staying in a luxurious suite at the M Resort Spa & Casino in November 2009, during one of the eight scouting and off-site pre-conference meetings to prepare for the October 2010 conference.
The amount at issue is about $100,000. It’s gross and inappropriate. But here’s the thing: Why do we have a GSA? It is just a glorified property management department. Larry Kudlow has recommended we get rid of the whole thing. He says, “Let private real estate people manage and sell government buildings.”
Last year GSA sent its request to Congress: “The FY 2012 budget of the U.S. General Services Administration (GSA) requests $617 million in discretionary budget authority. This is an increase of $342 million from the FY 2010 enacted level. Within the aggregate request, $285 million is requested as net budget authority for the Federal Buildings Fund and $332 million is requested for GSA operating appropriations.”
So instead of going after $100,000, why not scrap the whole thing and put its essential functions out to bid. We might save hundreds of millions of dollars. And of course if we shrunk the federal workforce, as Republicans have been advocating, we’d need much less office space.
It’s a fact of Beltway life that the public can get riled up over a boondoggle trip, but the existence of a bloated bureaucracy wasting goodness-knows how much money isn’t questioned. Until now.