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Suspended GSA commissioner created culture of silence on lavish spending

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Source: http://www.federalnewsradio.com/935/2830443/Latest-Suspended-GSA-exec-created-culture-of-silence

A suspended General Services Administration executive created a culture of lavish spending — and fear among his employees who spoke up against him — according to testimony in a House Transportation and Infrastructure subcommittee hearing today.

GSA Region 9 Public Buildings Service Commissioner Jeff Neely was placed on administrative leave two weeks ago after the agency's inspector general released a report about a October 2010 GSA conference in Las Vegas that cost taxpayers $823,000. After the report's release, Administrator Martha Johnson resigned and fired PBS Commissioner Bob Peck and GSA adviser Stephen Leeds, and nine other GSA employees have been put on administrative leave.

Neely had directed conference planners to make the Las Vegas conference "over-the-top," according to the IG report. Among other expenses, the report found the agency spent $136,000 on pre-conference scouting trips and $146,000 on catered food.

The IG's office talked to a GSA employee who witnessed someone try to raise an objection to Neely and was "squashed like a bug," GSA Inspector General Brian Miller said during the hearing.

The objections to the excessive spending came from Deputy Administrator Susan Brita, who notified the IG's office of the conference a month after the conference occurred.

Today was the second of four congressional hearings this week on the GSA spending scandal. Neely did not appear at today's committee. On Monday, he pleaded the Fifth Amendment in a hearing before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee.

The IG report also revealed the agency did not follow contracting regulations for conference procurements, such as violating small-business set-asides, failing to publish solicitations on the Federal Business Opportunities website and improperly disclosing bids to competing contractors.

Neely used a loophole in spending regulations that allowed food to be charged to federal funds if there was an awards ceremony.

"According to witnesses that we've interviewed, it was a running joke in Region 9 that in order to get food you had to give out awards," Miller said. "And many of these awards were silly awards. One of our witnesses characterized them as fake awards and jackass awards and things of that nature."

At the Las Vegas conference, GSA gave awards for theatrical performances, Miller said. "We do not consider that a proper award," he said. "The award has to be for contributions to the agency."

Peck faced harsh questioning from lawmakers at the hearing, particularly on his decision to recommend Neely for a $9,000 bonus last year, despite the agency's performance board recommendation of no bonus and after a preliminary report from the IG's office. Brita was head of the performance board that recommended no bonus.

"That is a culture within an agency that shows no matter what investigative report is going on, no matter what information or details we have, we're going to operate business as usual. I don't think you can sit there and blame everything on Mr. Neely," said Rep. Jeff Denham (R-Calif.), chairman of the subcommittee on public buildings, during his questioning of Peck.

Peck said he heard from senior management that Neely "didn't take it well if people debated with him on his decisions."

"On more than one occasion, I had to tell him that I heard that in his headquarters there were people who were reluctant to give him bad news because he didn't take it well," Peck said. He added he thought the complaints were related to "policy issues."

"I didn't know we were talking about issues of real government waste and integrity," Peck said.

Peck also defended his decision to invite people to his room at the Las Vegas conference for a "meet-and-greet" that ended up costing $1,960.

Peck said Tuesday he had planned on paying for beer, wine and chips out of his own pocket, but was surprised when additional food arrived. Peck said he was assured by a GSA employee that the food was part of the contract with the hotel.

The agency's new leadership has demanded the amount be repaid and Peck said he would do so.

"Mr. Peck, you know this. There's no free lunch," said Rep. Tim Walz (D-Minn.). "If it's part of the contract, the price was jacked up."

The Associated Press contributed to this story.

RELATED STORIES

More questions set in agency's $823K Vegas parties

Issa requests conference list from all agencies

More coverage of Shakeup at GSA

Edited by unlockingsky

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im surprise that no one care about some gov exec wasting our tax dollars.


"Family time is very precious and you should cherish every moment of it."

01/20/12 - I-130 sent to Chicago Lockbox.

01/26/12 - NOA1 received and processing at Vermont.

06/28/12 - NOA2 announced on status check.

06/29/12 - NVC received case learned on 07/2/12.

06/30/12 - Hard copy NOA2 received.

07/09/12 - NVC Casefile Number and IIN Issued.

07/16/12 - Receive and Sent DS-3032 via email.

07/17/12 - Mailed DS-3032 via mail, AOS bill received via email, paid online, Optin email sent.

07/18/12 - Optin accepted and new case number, AOS marked paid, emailed AOS packet.

07/24/12 - Assigned as Agent, IV Fee bill received via email, paid online.

07/25/12 - IV Fee marked paid, emailed IV packet.

07/31/12 - Emailed GZO Supplemental Packet 3.

08/02/12 - Case completed and commenced final review.

08/03/12 - Shipped all copies of forms/letters/documents to my wife - arriving on 8/9/12.

08/06/12 - Case completed final review.

08/09/12 - Appointment letter received via email interview date set 9/6/12.

08/14/12 - Medical exam done.

08/15/12 - Medical exam results all normal.

09/06/12 - Submitted required documents at the embassy and interview set next day at 0730.

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10/20/12 - Received welcome letter from USCIS.

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04/27/13 - Submitted DS-160 online for parent-in-laws and sister-in-law.

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05/03/13 - Made appointment for 05/16/13 on CGI Stanley.

05/16/13 - Arrived at GUZ and impromptu notice on the front it was closed.

05/30/13 - B2 visa interview passed! Read review here http://www.visajourney.com/forums/topic/433263-b2-visa-was-approved-for-parentinlaw/ <p>

"Good ideas are not adopted automatically. They must be driven into practice with courageous patience." - ADM Hyman G. Rickover

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08/11/14 - I-175 arrived at VSC.

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02/27/15 - GC in production from email notification.

03/02/15 - Received NOA2 with approval dated 02/25/15.

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im surprise that no one care about some gov exec wasting our tax dollars.

we're too busy thinking of what kinda party we could have for that amount of money. :hehe:


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we're too busy thinking of what kinda party we could have for that amount of money. :hehe:

Or maybe we're wondering how much more taxpayer funds are wasted with all these Congressional hearings on the case. There have been 4 hearings thus far and I imagine that each and every one of those costs taxpayer funds, too. How many hearings does it take to figure out that something went wrong within the GSA?

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It is only money after all. I am guessing that the Feds figured that Las Vegas needed the stimulus.whistling.gif

i hear the secret service is trying to hire him to plan their next party in colombia. :innocent:


* ~ * Charles * ~ *
 

I carry a gun because a cop is too heavy.

 

USE THE REPORT BUTTON INSTEAD OF MESSAGING A MODERATOR!

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i hear the secret service is trying to hire him to plan their next party in colombia. :innocent:

:lol:


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