Flap Over Meeting Expenses Brings Down U.S. Official
The head of the U.S. General Services Administration resigned on Monday over what the White House called “excessive spending” on a training conference outside Las Vegas. Martha Johnston stepped down as administrator of the GSA— which manages government property and office space, oversees transportation for federal employees and, in an ironic twist, comes up with government cost-saving policies—and fired two other top officials. The shake-up was in response to a report from the agecy's inspector general on the 2010 meeting for the agency’s western region at the M Resort Spa and Casino. The conference was attended by about 300 employees and cost at least $822,000. Expenses detailed in the report and widely reported by the news media include more than $100,000 in airfare for six scouting trips to the resort by a planning team, $75,000 for a team-building exercise, $6,000 on commemorative coins for attendees and $3,200 for a mind reader to provide entertainment.
Fallout from the report isn’t limited to the leadership change. The agency will be changing its accounting procedures, requiring more oversight of conference planners and contractors, instituting mandatory training in meeting planning for all employees, reducing travel budgets for regional offices and canceling the western region’s future conferences. washingtonpost.com