GSA caught in another spending spree
by JENNIFER PEEBLES
May 17, 2012
Federal officials with the same agency that blew $800,000 at a Las Vegas employee conference two years ago are also paying millions every month to rent property that almost nobody in the government uses.
The General Services Administration (GSA), the federal government's housekeeping agency, pays $13 million in annual rent for 189 rental properties that were less than 1 percent "occupied" for nearly half of last year, according to an analysis of GSA leasing inventory data by The Washington Examiner.
And GSA pays $600 million in annual rent for at least 2,000 rental properties that were less than 10 percent occupied during that time, the analysis found.
All of the properties are managed by GSA's Public Buildings Service (PBS), which negotiates the leases and assigns the space to federal departments and agencies.
The housekeeping agency, which manages more than 354 million square feet of space used by units throughout the federal government, recently came under fire for lavish spending on a staff conference held in Las Vegas in 2010.
Among the spending abuses found were the hiring of a "mentalist," paying $6,000 for commemorative coins in velvet boxes for attendees, and several GSA officials making multiple "planning" trips to Las Vegas prior to the conference.
As a result, Martha Johnson resigned as GSA Administrator, two of her top deputies were fired and four senior program managers were put on administrative leave.
The scandal was uncovered by the GSA Inspector General and first reported in April by The Washington Post.
One of those placed on leave was David Foley, deputy PBS commissioner, who told a congressional subcommittee last year that "GSA effectively manages its leased space."
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