There has been a great deal of discussion regarding the approximately $800,000 spent on a lavish 2010 Las Vegas conference hosted by the General Services Administration (GSA). The GSA handles government real estate and other non-military procurement.
Susan Brita, a GSA deputy administrator, was the whistleblower who first raised the issue, which has since expanded to include investigation of other travel, employee incentive programs, and various perks. Ms. Brita testified today before the House Transportation Committee that the GSA was seeking reimbursement from implicated officials for government money spent on the substantial personal benefits they obtained with GSA funds. Amid accusations of government corruption, fraud, and waste, the situation highlights the lack of internal controls and supervisory oversight at the agency. It also demonstrates the importance of timely action regarding concerns raised by a whistleblower and the appropriate dissemination of information, as one of the topics addressed in the hearing was the time lapse between when the White House counsel’s office knew of the investigation and when it was acknowledged by the administration.
Jeff Neely, the GSA official who organized the Las Vegas conference, has repeatedly refused to answer questions based on his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination. However, the content of Mr. Neely’s emails quoted during the hearing is telling, with such phrases as “I know I’m bad, but as Deb and I often say, why not enjoy it while we have it and while we can. Ain’t gonna last forever.”