Statements and Speeches
Committee on Environment and Public Works
Apr 18 2012
WASHINGTON - Today, Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del.) released the following statement on the Environment and Public Works Committee hearing, "Oversight Hearing on the General Services Administration:"
"The details that have been brought forth regarding the General Services Administration's (GSA) mismanagement of its 2010 Western Regional Conference have raised serious questions in the minds of many, myself included, about how our government is managing taxpayer funds, as well as our efforts to curb wasteful spending.
"As everyone in this room knows, we've faced record budget deficits in recent years. Our national debt stands at about $15.4 trillion, well over double what it was just 10 years ago. I think all of us can agree that the Inspector General's finding that there were tens of thousands of dollars in improper expenditures on this conference is deeply disturbing and completely unacceptable. There was clearly little fiscal responsibility involved in the spending decisions GSA officials made in planning and executing this conference.
"During these times of record high national debt, and the ongoing debate over deficit reduction, we just can't afford to be this careless. At a time when so many worthwhile programs across the federal government are going to expected to do more with less, it's shameful that GSA would spend so much money for so little of value to the taxpayer.
"According to information provided by GSA to congressional committees, and subsequently published in the press, prior GSA Western Regions Conferences occurred in Oklahoma City, OK in 2006 and New Orleans, LA in 2008. Cost estimates for these conferences, which do not include planning expenses, jumped from nearly $324,000 in 2006 to more than $655,000 in 2008 -- a 102 percent increase. Compared to these past gatherings, the GSA Western Regional conference reached a historic level of excess in 2010, costing taxpayers more than $822,000. Even more troubling is that GSA ignored its own policies and violated all sorts of contracting regulations, including giving free rooms to a contractor's employees even though the contract cost included lodging.
"One point is consistent throughout the Inspector General's report: we need to ensure that there is a system of internal controls in place to prevent this type of wasteful spending not just at GSA, but throughout our government. Moreover, in order to address the burden wasteful spending and gross financial mismanagement places on our country, we need to establish a culture of thrift to replace what some would call a culture of spendthrift. I look forward to hearing from our witnesses on what controls the GSA – and other federal agencies – must implement to avoid wasteful spending of all kinds."