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Hearing on GSA extravagance scheduled


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A congressional hearing on the recently revealed lavish expenditures by the General Service Administration has been scheduled for Aug. 1, Rep. John Mica (R-Fla.) announced in a statement Friday.

"Whether it’s through extravagant and senseless junkets, vacations and bonuses for its employees, or by turning some of the federal government’s most valuable properties into money-losers by letting them sit empty for years, this agency has demonstrated a profound and unbelievable tendency to treat taxpayer dollars like Monopoly money,” Mica, chairman of the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, said in the statement.

“This agency is in need of some dramatic reforms, and the Committee will explore all these topics at this upcoming hearing.”

The hearing will also explore other potential reforms, including whether managing federal property should be handled by the private sector instead of GSA, according to Rep. Jeff Denham (R-Calif.), chairman of the Subcommittee on Economic Development, Public Buildings and Emergency Management.

At a press conference Thursday, Mica announced that the GSA, which was still reeling from the scandal over its $822,000 conference in Las Vegas in 2010, held a performance reward ceremony costing taxpayers nearly $270,000. The event was held at the Crystal Gateway Marriott across from the Potomac in Washington in November of that year.

Expenses included $34,073.38 for the venue; $7,697.22 for hors d’oeuvres, beverages, miniature pastries for 200 attendees, a violinist and a guitarist for a “Commissioner’s Reception” at the Key Bridge Marriott; $20,578.24 for 4,000 drumsticks given to attendees; and $28,364.45 for 4,000 “time temperature picture frames” provided by Small Wonders.

The event in question will not be the focus of the hearing. It will serve as more of a gateway for Congress to look at the agency as a whole, Amanda Maddox, spokesperson for Denham told POLITICO.

“I think it’s just a building block effect,” Maddox said. “We’ll be looking at the overall purpose of the General Service Administration.”

Betsaida Alcantara, spokesperson for GSA, told POLITICO in an email that the agency has already been working on reform internally. She said lavish events were also canceled as of April 2012.

“Under the new leadership at GSA, this type of spending is not tolerated and strong oversight has been put in place … We continue with our rigorous top-to-bottom review of all agency operations and further reforms are forthcoming,” Alcantara emailed POLITICO.

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