Another General Services Administration conference is coming under scrutiny and this one featured drumsticks, miniature pastries, a violinist and gift clocks instead of mind readers and clowns.
The gathering, held at the Crystal City Marriott in the fall of 2010, honored employees of the agency’s Federal Acquisition Service.
The GSA handed out wooden drumsticks valued at about $5 each and picture frames with clocks that were valued about $7 each, but many of the hundreds of employees also received monetary awards of more than $1,000 each, records show.
The GSA provided a cost breakdown of the conference to The Washington Times late Thursday in response to a May 31 Freedom of Information Act request seeking details about it. By then, Congress, which had just been notified about the conference, wasted little time in sharing details with Capitol Hill reporters.
In a letter Thursday to the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, GSA Inspector General Brian Miller wrote that he had learned from Acting GSA Administrator Dan Tangherlini on July 11 about the one-day “performance award ceremony” in the Washington area featuring a drum band exercise, with overall costs more than a quarter-million dollars.
Expenditures also included nearly $8,000 for a “commissioners reception” with miniature pastries and a violinist and guitarist, according to the letter.
For months, the GSA has been under scrutiny about a lavish 2010 Las Vegas conference that cost more than $800,000 and featured a red carpet awards ceremony, talent show and skits from several GSA managers and executives.
GSA spokeswoman Betsaida Alcantara said Thursday the Crystal City event took place in 2010 and has been going on since 2002.
“Today, under new GSA leadership, this event and type of spending is not tolerated,” Ms. Alcantara said.
In a response to The Times’ Freedom of Information Act request, GSA officials said total expenses paid out the Marriott for the one-day event were nearly $35,000.
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Jim McElhatton is an investigative reporter for The Washington Times. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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