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Search Tags: conference spending
The leaders of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee gave the acting GSA administrator 21 days to answer 41 multi-part questions about the agency's efforts to prevent waste, fraud and abuse following the now infamous Western Regions Conference. Senators also recommended the agency review all other recent GSA conferences for possible problems.
Tags: Dan Tangherlini , Brian Miller , Susan Collins , Joseph Lieberman , GSA , waste , fraud , Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee , financial management , Shakeup at GSA , Ruben Gomez
The Office of Management and Budget issued new guidance Friday, directing federal agencies to cut travel spending by 30 percent starting in October and prohibiting more than $500,000 to be spent on conferences. Acting OMB Director Jeffrey Zients called the latest move "another important step forward" in cutting inefficient federal spending.
Defense Department officials have called off large annual contracting-focused conference just weeks before it was set to begin. The invitation-only DoD Procurement Conference and Training Symposium was to have taken place in Orlando, Fla., later this month. However, a departmental notice said officials needed more time to better align the training programs with DoD acquisition policy.
In a marathon series of votes Tuesday, the Senate considered more than a dozen amendments to a postal reform bill, approving a provision to limit all federal agencies' spending on conferences, but voting down an amendment expanding the federal workers' compensation program. Lawmakers also rejected an amendment that would have required retirement-eligible USPS employees to retire without a buyout payment. The Senate will resume voting on amendments Wednesday at 2 p.m. before voting on a final version of the 21st Century Postal Service Act.
Embattled GSA official Jeff Neely ran his region like a "fiefdom" and was the agencies "weakest link," Congressman Elijah Cummings told In Depth on Thursday. And while he supports investigating conference practices government-wide, that isn't an excuse for fed bashing, he said.
The Accountability in Government Act would require agency leaders to sign off on any conference costing more than $200,000.
General Services Administration Inspector General Brian Miller told senators on Wednesday his office had made a criminal referral to the Justice Department relating to the ongoing spending scandal. Speaking at the last of four congressional hearings about the GSA, Miller testified that he has heard from "a lot" of whistleblowers since his report was released several weeks ago.
Congressman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) has broadened the scope of Congress' probe into the GSA conference scandal, requesting a list of all overnight conferences attended by more than 50 employees at 23 federal agencies and departments.
Agencies must complete their analysis by Nov. 1 and be prepared to present their findings during the December cabinet meeting with the Vice President. OMB's edict comes after the Justice Department inspector general found excessive spending by the agency. This is not the first time agencies have had trouble controlling conference expenses.