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GSA conference probe: No big deal?

money drain

In response to our story about some General Services Administration employees being put on leave over conference spending, a reader dubbed "I am GSA" wrote: Come on. Really? How about that dead horse, isn't there anything better to write about? Some people did bad things, and we are paying the price for their actions. I need three levels of approval for travel, not to a conference, not to training, but to do my job. We in the field are way past frustration. And if this is the best that FCW can do, I'm out, you have now become a fish wrapper.

Mark Rockwell responds: Acting GSA Administrator Dan Tangherlini said in a June 4 speech at the Professional Services Council that the people most angry about the GSA conference scandal are GSA employees. That's not surprising. The actions of a few tarnished the reputations of thousands of honest, sensible and hard-working GSA employees. Tangherlini has made it a point to address the scandal head-on and to show the agency has moved past that history and is busy reinventing itself as the go-to place for federal government needs. The new revelations concerning over-the-top conference spending -- or at least the perception of lavish expenditures -- at the Internal Revenue Service have provided more perspective for GSA's past difficulties.

The reports coming out of the IRS show that such behavior isn't limited to GSA, but could be a wider issue. This story reports a milestone in the final leg of GSA's handling of a similar problem, where IRS's may be just beginning. It's an important story because it shows that GSA is continuing to make sure such behavior is punished and prevented, even as its scandal fades into memory.

Posted by Mark Rockwell on Jun 06, 2013 at 12:10 PM


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Reader comments

Mon, Jun 10, 2013

The first commenter appears to be spot on. The second commenter does not appear to have a clue what the private sector, as a whole, is doing. Having worked in both the public and private sectors, I have found that the Federal Government wastes a lot more money per person on questionable to useless conferences and training - and it is usually only a select few individuals in each group that are doing the vast majority of these wasteful and costly activities.

Sun, Jun 9, 2013

I think it goes without question that most criticism of government employees travel and traveling is simply a go-to card that the public plays when they're bored. Anybody who's ever traveled as government employee knows that, at any level, we travel like paupers when compared with out private sector counterparts. Sure, there's some Mom and Pop shot home business owner who pockets more profits by living their life in a Motel-6, but for every Motel-6 owner there are far more business leaders and employees staying at resorts. And for now they're getting traction, as always. Now, when all this Motel-6 love affects the travel industry, I'm sure it'll swing back the other way. The bottom line is travel is needed, and it's just dumb to expect people who travel a lot to live, on the road, like it's something they do once every three years - for one week. While telework and distance meetings have their place, it simply silly to think it's as effective minute-for-minute as a face-to-face meeting. If anybody in government disagrees, have congress try a year to telework - mothball the chambers for a year. And, while you're at it, make sure the Secretary of State and G8 do their deal via VTC. So the perceived waste is silly and just something meant to stir the masses. It's funny how the trend towards making travel difficult (rental cars needing silly-high levels of approval and such), come at a time when getting the most awesome people to work for Govt. is at an all-time high. Heck, it's funny how contractors who work for me get to stay at better places than me, and they can get a car. Hmmmmmm, maybe I'll keep bringing one along - just for the ability to have a car at my disposal if only indirectly..

Fri, Jun 7, 2013

This type of abuse is wide spread in the government but typically it is done by Supervisors and Managers, not the common worker. The workers are just hush hush for fear of reprisal, which does happen a lot. Managers and Supervisors protect one another, not matter what the other did. It is well known amongst workers but most don't have a spine to say anything. It is common practice to abuse the power entrusted to the Manager/Supervisor if nothing more than to torment the employee. Our Manager retired recently and at his retirement he said he liked conflict, it gave him something to do. He said he would often stir the pot if nothing was going on to make his job interesting. How sad is that?

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