COMMENTARY | Bring on the clowns. The General Services Administration scandal again proves liberals cannot be trusted with taxpayer dollars. The federal agency tasked with developing rules other governmental offices must follow when hosting conferences failed miserably at policing itself. Although the full details will not be known until the congressional hearings, the preliminary figures published in the Washington Post are disturbing. In addition to the public funds wasted for sushi, "preferred" contractor hotel rooms, commemorative coins and staff yearbooks, GSA staffers also thought it was a good idea to hire clowns and mind readers to entertain the government employees.
After being appointed to the head of the GSA by President Barack Obama, Martha Johnson said she would focus on ethics, according to the Washington Post. She failed miserably and stepped down earlier after the scandal made national headlines.
Towing the party line, Johnson also blamed the Bush administration for not running the GSA properly and vowed to be a "responsible steward" of taxpayer dollars. If the western region conference is the Obama administration's idea of fiscal responsibility, taxpayers should send a remedial vocabulary lesson to the White House by way of the ballot box in November.
The number of procurement rules the GSA violated during the conference are astonishing. According to the Washington Post, the GSA spent $44 per person for breakfast each day. Although meals should be provided during a mandatory work conference, fresh fruit and bagels could have sufficed.
Team building exercises are routine at work related conferences, but there was is no logical argument for spending $75,000 of taxpayer money for a bicycle building activity. The conference could have been held at a state park and the group could have learned how to build a campfire or participated in orienteering activities for free.
The GSA also spent $6,325 for commemorative coins housed in attractive velvet boxes to reward themselves for a job well done on stimulus projects. The American taxpayer would once again likely disagree on both the purchase of the expensive trinkets and the need to pat one another on the back for the deficit increasing projects. The GSA has employees trained in event planning, yet agency officials felt it wise to hire outside staff to plan the conference, yet another frill at taxpayer expense.