A clown, a comedian and a mind reader walk into a Las Vegas bar. The bartender says, "This joke is going to be really funny when the General Services Administration Inspector General's report is released…"
The chief of the General Services Administration resigned, two of her top deputies were fired and four managers were placed on leave Monday amid reports of lavish spending at a conference off the Las Vegas Strip that featured a clown, a mind reader and a $31,208 reception.
Among the "excessive, wasteful and in some cases impermissable" spending the inspector general documented: $5,600 for three semi-private catered in-room parties and $44 per person daily breakfasts; $75,000 for a "team-building" exercise — the goal was to build a bicycle; $146,000 on catered food and drinks; and $6,325 on commemorative coins in velvet boxes to reward all participants for their work on stimulus projects. The $31,208 "networking" reception featured a $19-per-person artisanal cheese display and $7,000 of sushi. At the conference's closing-night dinner, employees received "yearbooks" with their pictures, at a cost of $8,130.
I think the real problem here is that they only spent $3,200 on the mind reader. The government is always penny-wise and pound-foolish. For a slightly larger appropriation, they could have gotten a clairvoyant that would have foreseen this whole fiasco.
As for Administrator Martha Johnson, who is the official taking the fall for this, she had only arrived at the GSA in April 2010, while the conference took place in October. So in all seriousness, Johnson probably had little opportunity to put a stop to the affair, given how long in advance such events are planned.
Given the integrity she has shown in tendering her resignation, the best solution may be to put her in charge of the war in Afghanistan. If she only wastes $823,000 — the full cost of the Las Vegas conference — that would constitute just .27% of what the United States spends every single day on the Afghan war.
Photo by Michael Loccisano/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images
Tags: Barack Obama, Comedians, Las Vegas, Money, Nevada