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GSA Hearings Continue – More Wasteful Spending Is Revealed

GSA Jeff NeelyThe GSA is one of the topics that I wish I could stop writing about. It is also one of the topics that keep on giving. Congress is in the middle of a series of hearings on the GSA and it appears that lawmakers are opening up a new can of worms, uncovering more of the iceberg that is the wasteful spending coming out of the GSA. It is rather difficult getting some of the information, since the man who was apparently responsible for much of it, Jeff Neely, has been sounding like a broken record, pleading the 5th Amendment. That was on the first day of hearings. He decided not to show up on the second day.

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I have been reading through some of the details that have emerged during the hearings and it is really amazing at how easily Jeff Neely and some of the other GSA officials were able to waste so much of our money. Even more disturbing is the lack of concern and responsibility over that wasteful spending. I get the impression that the only regret most of them have is getting caught. If you thought the infamous Las Vegas conference was bad, you must read on.

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On one occasion, Jeff Neely took his wife and daughter on a 17-day trip to the South Pacific. According to a Fox News report, that trip was intended to turn into a birthday party. Here is a short exchange between Neely and his wife.

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Family members often were taken along on such trips, and in an email exchange between Neely and his wife last November, they wrote of the planned trip turning into a birthday celebration.

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Referring to the 17-day trip, which was to take place in February, Neely wrote his wife: “Rough schedule per our conversation. Guess this’ll be your birthday present?”

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She responded, “Its yo birthday….We gonna pawty like iz yo birthday!”

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That kind of attitude is what burns me up. These people really didn’t care that they were spending/wasting so much of our money. From what took place during the second day of the hearings, it is becoming clear that no one was really watching this particular hen house. What’s more, it also shows that GSA officials had no intention of allowing the proper oversight into their spending practices.

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According to Jamie Dupree, the hearings were also used by members of Congress to again demand documents from the GSA concerning certain budget items.

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Also at play here is a more subtle battle between the Congress and the GSA on the details of its work, as lawmakers used the hearing to again demand documents about properties held by the GSA and various budget decisions – it is information the GSA continues to withhold in many cases from the same committees holding hearings this week.

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“We smelled a rat last year, which is why the Committee requested information from the GSA about the tripling of the Public Buildings Service Commissioner’s office administrative costs,” said Rep. Mica (R-FL).

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“The agency continues to stonewall the Committee’s request.”

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For some reason, the GSA seems to think they have no responsibility to respond to the request from Congress. Correct me if I am wrong, but doesn’t part of Congress’ duties in their branch of our government include oversight of the finances of the various agencies that make up our government?

We go back again to the priorities of the GSA. I haven’t mentioned this before, but I have had dealings with the GSA in my work. All of these vehicles you see on the roads with government tags, the ones that begin in GSA? They are managed by the GSA and some of them are maintained at the automotive repair shop where I work. Each of them comes with a GSA card, which contains the vehicle account number and the agency to which it is assigned. Also on the card is a dollar limit, usually $100. Anything over that limit has to be called into the GSA and approved, before the repairs can begin. They keep a close eye on the cost of these repairs, as they should. Is it too much to ask that they keep a close eye on the rest of their expenditures?

Apparently so, as the GSA seems intent on stonewalling Congress and the American taxpayer. Some top GSA officials have expressed their outrage and sorrow that this has happened. The previous administrator of the GSA, Martha Johnson, resigned in protest, saying she had no idea the wasteful spending was taking place. It should be noted that she gave her approval for the 17-day trip to the South Pacific that was enjoyed so much by Jeff Neely and his family. Her resignation and protests seem rather empty, in light of her approval of the trip.

I can’t wait to see how the Obama administration plans to blame this on Bush.

About LD Jackson

LD Jackson has written 2053 posts in this blog.

Founder and author of the political and news commentary blog Political Realities. I have always loved to write, but never have I felt my writing was more important than in this present day. If I have changed one mind or impressed one American about the direction our country is headed, then I will consider my endeavors a success. I take the tag line on this blog very seriously. Above all else, in search of the truth.

  • The part of this story that is so infuriating to me is the attitude these people had. They were not concerned at all with wasting our money and in fact some were laughing at us. You are right, they are only upset they were caught and if it wasn’t for that rap video this would probably still be going on.

    • To be flat out honest, their attitude stinks. They seem to think it is funny and that irks me to no end.

  • If anyone thinks this fraud and wasted is confined to just the GSA, they need to have their head examined. This is just the tip of a very wasteful federal iceberg.

    If the GOP had any brains they would seize upon this to demand immediate across the board cuts to all federal agencies.

    • I have no doubt that you are right. This is the same wasteful spending Senator Tom Coburn has been harping on his entire career, yet it continues to be ignored. The GOP needs to seize on this and not let it go away.

  • Should we be surprised at the Washington culture of waste? After all, it’s not “real” money. They can get all they want by simply raising taxes or better yet, adding to the deficit—like breathing yet another breath of air.

    Remember Everett Dirksen, the Republican senator from Illinois known for his dulcet, rumbling voice and colorful political oratory? “A billion here; a billion there. Pretty soon it adds up to real money,” he is famously remembered for saying some fifty years ago; of course with intentional irony in his case to make a point on the Washington spendthrift mentally. With the Obama administration, one need only substitute “trillion” for “billion” and lose the irony to get the picture. To them, at the end of the day it’s all “stimulus.”

    • lou222

      I would say to you that it is EASY to spend someone elses money. Don’t get me started on the corruption in my great state of Illinois, it runs deep in both parties. Now, ask me why I am still living here!!!

    • I think the wasteful spending is one more reason why the tax code needs to be revamped. I know Congress is supposed to hold the power of the purse, but they have used the tax system to abuse that authority. Something needs to be done to rein it in.

      I know exactly what you are talking about. I am sick of hearing how this spending is just a drop in the bucket and really doesn’t affect our budget. I beg to differ with anyone who says that. We need to start paying more attention to the little things.

      • The Dems use of tax policy goes beyond just buying more pork. They use it to punish their enemies (soak the 1%, they’re not going to vote for me anyway) and reward their supporters (50% of filers don’t pay ANY tax and many of those actually get paid by the IRS for filing). What happened to “equal protection under the law” and “no taxation without representation.” I believe there needs to be a constitutional amendment setting preventing the use of taxation as a political weapon. A flat tax amendment would go a long way. It’s ironic that Obama, early on, compared himself to and said he wanted to be like Lincoln, the great healer. Instead, he has been the most divisive and politically strident president in our history.

        • I agree, John. The tax code is used for purposes other than just raising revenues. That is another reason why it needs to be changed.

  • lou222

    They will continue to do this outrageous spending until caught and then say they had no ideal it was happening. How often have we seen this before? Unless caught, the big spending will go on. It is in every department of Government You will have one person that will take a bit of the heat and that person will be rewarded somehow. They are not the least bit worried about punishment. Who is going to punish them? our DoJ? Ha. I don’t think so. What would you put the wasteful spending in the government? Maybe 50-60 percent to be easy on them? Amazing.

    • Amazing and sickening, when you stop and think about the amount of money that is being wasted. When something like this comes up, the buck gets passed hither and thither, but no changes come about. That needs to stop.

      I wish I knew exactly how much spending takes place that is completely unnecessary, but if I did, I would probably be even more upset. They keep so much of it hidden, it’s pathetic.

  • Annie

    Larry I think you probably know the answer to your last statement ” I can’t wait to see how the Obama administration plans to blame this on Bush.” He going to do it anyway.

    • I have no doubt that you are right. He will just make a statement that it is Bush’s fault and we will be expected to accept it as fact.

  • As much as I’d like to blame Obama fact is this is a constant issue. These people (Government workers) are virtually impossible to fire, have amazing benefits, advance via nepotism, feel entitled, and nobody looks over their shoulder.

    If this shows anything it’s simply how inefficient Government is and why it should be kept AS SMALL AS POSSIBLE.

    Just like the $800 toilet seats from the 1980s.

    • That is true, Harrison. This is not necessarily Obama’s fault, but it does show the dangers of having a government that is so large. Oversight seems to be minimal, at best.

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