Embattled regional commissioner Jeff Neely no longer at GSA

Thursday - 5/24/2012, 6:58pm EDT

Jeff Neely, the General Services Administration regional commissioner at the heart of the Las Vegas spending scandal that roiled the agency, is no longer employed by GSA.

Neely, the Public Buildings Service Commissioner for Region 9, had been placed on administrative leave following revelations of a lavish $822,000 training conference held in Las Vegas in 2010. GSA Administrator Martha Johnson fired two of her top deputies, including Public Buildings Service Commissioner Bob Peck, and resigned.

At least four regional commissioners were also placed on administrative leave. Deputy PBS Commissioner, David Foley, was suspended as well.

"GSA is in the process of completing its review of activities associated with the Western Regions Conference and pursuing all available avenues for appropriate disciplinary action against those responsible," said GSA Deputy Press Secretary Adam Elkington in an email. "Jeff Neely was placed on administrative leave based on his involvement in the WRC. As of today, he's no longer employed with GSA."

It's unclear when, exactly, Neely left the agency and under what circumstances.

Also, GSA did not immediately provide comment on whether other suspended officials had left the agency in addition to Neely.

Neely's departure was first reported by Government Executive.

Neely directed party planners to go "over-the-top" in planning the 2010 Western Regions Conference, according to a GSA inspector general's report. The report found the agency spent $136,000 on pre-conference scouting trips to the Las Vegas-area luxury hotel where the event was held and $146,000 on catered food — far exceeding per diem rates allowed for federal employees. The IG also detailed several violations of contracting regulations.

The excessive spending created a media firestorm and drew quick criticism from Congress.

At the first of no fewer than five congressional hearings on the matter, Neely, who by that time had been placed on leave, invoked his Fifth Amendment right to remain silent and did not answer any questions.

Dan Tangherlini, who was named acting GSA administrator after Johnson stepped down, told Congress he had sent letters to Neely and other GSA officials at the heart of the scandal, asking them to reimburse the government for some of the costs incurred during the event.

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