9:09 am, July 10, 2014

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  • GSA is not alone
    deployed decoy
    Well up in Germany a few years ago, I too was privy to attend a few large scale conferences. I will state the outcome of these meetings of minds from across DoD did produce high level decisions and resolve conflicts in policy that in the end, maybe offered a pay back to the tax payer. What gripped me was the accommodations. We were ordered to stay at the Moral Welfare and Recreation (funded in theory with non-appropriated funds) Edelweiss Hotel in Garmisch. The problem with this was the posted room rates vary for the MWR facilities charter reason to exist from the lowest rates for junior enlisted to the highest for General Officers. But, for these conferences MWR jacked the room rates up to exactly whatever the current State Dept lodging rate was for Garmisch, close to $100 above the posted rate for a Specialist with a spouse and kids in the same room. I watched the front desk one night when that same young Solider and family were turned away from the inn, because the 3 conferences going on, had all the rooms taken. Then to really slap me in the face. The property took all the MIandE money and issued meal tickets to the cheapest buffet eating place on the property. Besides the pure profit (for the hotel and out of pocket for me) of this on nights I went to a real German restaurant off the base, that money did not include coffee and donuts in the mornings, the conference fee did. Having been in Germany a few years, I knew the town. I found a 2 bedroom villa with 2 covered decks and sauna for less than the rate I was charged as a federal employee, if I was given the rate as posted for my grade, not the special jacked up conference rate. The private place was about 35 Euros below the rate the conference charged per night (included breakfast), but alas I was directed to stay in the Edelweiss to rub shoulders and network over drinks in the evenings.
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  • Let's be fair
    Just me
    Okay, I will readily admit that GSA has a number of problems. Among these problems was a definitive dearth of common sense which, SHOULD, have told these senior managers (in the Western Regions)a number of things: First, that the optics of the holding the conference in Las Vegas would be bad. Second, that the over-the-top motif made things worse. Third, that the video they lauded made the whole mess inexcusable, under any light. All these things are true, and few in GSA are attempting to say otherwise. But let's be fair. Congress has taken an opportunity to link two things that don't belong together: The Vegas vacation and the disposal of under utilized federal properties, as though they have the same cause. They don't. The problem, in the former case, was a series of bad management decisions. The problem, in the latter case, is CONGRESS and the laws they wrote which make disposing of these properties difficult or impossible. I would also like to observe that, perhaps, Congress would be a lot more credible in their accusations if they (themselves) were not guilty of similar bad acts. After all, it's BECAUSE of Congressional bad acts that we now have the STOCK ACT. And who can forget the check kiting scandal of a few years ago? The junkets and pork that seem to be the only things Congress can pass on a bipartisan basis? The failure of COngress to do THEIR jobs? Maybe the rot really DOES start at the head of the fish?
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  • GSA
    Bud
    Absolutely dumb and stupid decisions were made by GSA managers/executives.I cannot believe top level GSA execs in DC didn't know about/approve this conference.Yes,heads have rolled.Yesterday the Obama folks tried to deflect blame by saying GSA did the same thing under Bush.That's a lame excuse.The new GSA administrator under Obama could just have decided to cancel the conference.I remember when the IRS union,NTEU,had 2 annual conferences in Las Vegas and Honolulu but criticized IRS management for having a managerial conference in Annapolis in the winter.Funny how the NTEU meetings didn't make the headlines;but they tried to explain it by saying they were using union dues to fund their conferences.
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  • Isn't NTEU a private entity?
    Kythe
    If the union is a private entity, it can spend its money as it wishes (as long as the membership, from whom the money comes, is good with that).
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  • Lousy actions by GSA
    Moderate
    If you did not make it partisan, then I would respect your position. The same applies to the Congressional Republicans. The administration, whether Republican or Democrat, should have said that the incident will be investigated quickly with results given in a very short period of time. And, if there is blame, then disciplinary action should be taken.------As far as the union is concerned, did you find out whether their explanation is factual or fiction? And why tried? If that is what they told you, then tried is wrong. Further, did you find out the cost of lodging in these locations vs. the cost elsewhere for these union conferences? Please tell us the price of lodging for the Annapolis conference vs. what the union paid for lodging in Vegas and Honolulu.
    worker
    { "Agree":"1","Funny":"1","Insightful":"1","Disagree":"-1","Offensive":"-1","Troll":"-1" }
  • GSA
    American Nana
    How does one become a GSA administrator??? I could do way better and give better, less expensive parties. Where is the application?? Is this one of those rich guy things, where I have to "give" lots of money and by magic I get appointed???? Send me in coach, I can do better.
    { "Agree":"1","Funny":"1","Insightful":"1","Disagree":"-1","Offensive":"-1","Troll":"-1" }
  • The video looked pretty good too
    contrarian
    I give somebody credit for caring about moral. Private sector spends 100 times more. Is anybody looking into those Rocky Mountain "fact finding" trips?
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  • Agree
    Kythe
    The private sector does spend an awful lot more. And by analogy, if the federal government is "spending the taxpayer's money", then private companies are "spending their customer's money". One is no more inherently wrong than the other. However, I think we all know that the government is held to a higher standard. That is as it should be.
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  • No Difference in Tax Dollars & Private Dollars?
    JBsPoint2Ponder
    What, spending taxpayer money is 'inherently no more wrong than' a private company than spending customer money??? Taxpayer money is taken from individuals under the threat of imprisonment. As a customer, I can freely choose to withhold my money and find another business. We need smaller, more accountable government!
    { "Agree":"1","Funny":"1","Insightful":"1","Disagree":"-1","Offensive":"-1","Troll":"-1" }
  • You can?
    will4567
    Please tell me the gas station where I can purchase gas without the additional $1 per gallon in costs from speculators. Also, please let me know where I can purchase any number of other items that have very limited competition - like cell phone service, cable tv, etc - where companies don't worry too much about CEO pay and benefits since they just pass it on to the customer.
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  • To JB
    Moderate
    I agree with you up to the point of your last sentence. Everyone must pay taxes. People do have the right, but are not forced, to go to a particular store or speculate in the market.-------However, your last sentence is a joke because you probably want to eliminate the domestic social and regulatory programs. It appears you want the magic elixirs, the pollution, and maybe eliminate the public schools? Sorry, the last sentence spoiled your comments.
    worker
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  • Higher Standard is RIGHT
    MDBBALL02
    The Government IS HELD TO A HIHGER STANDARD than the Provate sector BECAUSE IT IS THE PUBLIC'S MONEY! We CANNOT ABUSE IT! I get that Both groups commit these types of Sins, but there is a Zero tolerance policy on Federal Government agencies endulging this type of activity! Las Vegas is NEVER an option in my agency, and we limit the number of attendees approved to go to ANY Conference! GSA BLEW IT ALL THE WAY AROUND!
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  • Already sent MY note to GSA!
    MDBBALL02
    When the Story broke, I sent this to GSA Public Affairs: As a fellow Fed, I am shocked that I have to say "Thank You GSA for giving Congress yet another thing to COMPLAIN about related to incompetance and waste in the Federal Gov't." In this day and age .. all the bashing of Government every night onthe news...HOW COULD YOU? You really let all fellow Fed down BIG TIME, not to mention the taxpayer. I saw on the news the Administrator stepped down, but for Congress, Feds, and the public that isn't remotely enough. In my agency, NO ONE WOULD HAVE EVER APPROVED Procurement Requests (PRs) for that kind of money for that type of event! NEVER Would have happend! Hell we can't even "say" Las Vegas! AND, our Public Relations office would have been involved in the decision to even have this event, since he/she would have the good sense to say "What would 20/20 say if they did a story about this?" as they do over everything we do, and Public affairs would have KILLED this before it happend! The folks who signed the PRs and those who made the lavish advance trips need to be ousted immediately! This is firable behavior! Their actions are in clear opposition to the very oath they each took! It is too late for this to not impact all the Federal Government bashing done by the Hill, media, and the public, it just gave them all fuel, but you need to get the trouble OUT of your agency, so the tax payer sees Government folks know what they hell they are doing!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! (Still waitng for a reply from GSA...Hmmmmmm)
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  • Huh??
    Big Joe
    Having a hard time stomaching the stereotypes this morning..... Just because we're a Fed doesn't mean we don't know what workers on the outside go through. Really?? As an example, I worked on the outside for 18 years before becoming a Fed, and I've met many people just like me. That is what makes people like me so valuable, we've been on both sides of the fence. There is a probable very high percentage where a spouse is a non-Fed, so there is insight there that would not be visable to a two earning/two-Fed househole. I gave up the high salary for the stability, now thats one thing I didn't see! Not sure how much longer I'll be here, but will definately take my "Fed insight" back to the private sector when I go....
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