“The Office of Inspector General has very recently began their investigation, and we will support their efforts. We are also looking into this event. Based on our findings and those of the inspector general, we will determine our course of action,” he said.
Despite the agency’s strong words, videos from the conference obtained by The Times through the Freedom of Information Act show the gathering couldn’t have been that much of a surprise to several of Mr. Tangherlini’s top officials. And signs of wasteful spending seemed hard to miss.
After all, videos show several current GSA executives on the stage, foot-stomping, smiling, waving and banging long sticks that the lead performer of the government-hired drumming group called “boom-whackers.”
At one point, top GSA officials led their assigned teams of government employees in tapping out a beat. Each team had a color determined by the color of their boom-whackers.
Introduced as “Ms. Orange for the day” was Ms. Brita. Jon Jordan, deputy of the Federal Acquisition Service (FAS), was Mr. Yellow, while Tami Riggs, an assistant commissioner in the FAS, headed the green team. Other top officials participating included Tim Horne, FAS regional commissioner; Mike Tyllas, who is now deputy chief people officer for the GSA; and Steve Kempf, the FAS commissioner.
Mr. Kempf recently spoke out on the Las Vegas conference.
“We’re all disappointed by the poor judgment that was shown by a few individuals,” Mr. Kempf told a procurement conference in Virginia earlier this year, according to Federal Computer Weekly.
After the scandal involving the Las Vegas conference surfaced, some painted it as the actions of a “rogue” regional office where spending went unchecked.
Mr. Tangherlini took over the agency after the resignation of Martha Johnson, who left the agency in the wake of the Las Vegas scandal.
“They went rogue,” Mrs. Boxer said.
But videos, hundreds of pictures and a conference directory later obtained by The Times raised questions about that notion. The records showed the attendance of more than a dozen high-level GSA officials at the Las Vegas gathering.
Likewise, Washington-based officials were well-represented in Crystal City. During one portion of the conference, top GSA executives happily moved to the beat on stage with drummers as hundreds of GSA employees watched from the audience.
“It’s all about rhythm,” the woman from the drumming troupe informed the federal workers at one point. “There’s Monday-morning rhythm. There’s Friday-afternoon rhythm. There’s a fast-working rhythm. And there’s the rhythm that we’ve always felt since we were in our mothers’ womb 6 inches away from her beating heart.”
Many of the federal workers in the audience stood and banged their sticks, but others stayed seated. These employees traded uncomfortable glances and awkward smiles, perhaps as if to ask, though not out loud lest a boom-whacker-wielding supervisor overhear, “Why?”
© Copyright 2013 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.
Jim McElhatton is an investigative reporter for The Washington Times. He can be reached at email@example.com.
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