Agency for Limiting Government Waste Spends $800,000 on a Vegas Trip
The GSA, short for General Services Administration, is the agency that is supposed to be the Prius to other U.S. agencies' gas-guzzling SUVs. They're all about limiting waste, tirelessly working to make government processes sustainable, smart and transparent. They're the kind of people who dispatch goats to eat overgrown grass instead of firing up a lawnmower. Apparently, they are also firm believers in that old saying about happenings and Vegas.
Any cash spared thanks to goats and whatnot was happily blown away the second a 300-strong entourage of GSA savings experts hit the 2010 Western Regions Conference in Las Vegas. To their credit, they didn't just squander our valuable tax dollars on hookers and blow ... though they might've run up a smaller tab by doing that.
"She OD'd on the cocaine, so now I don't have to pay. You're welcome, America."
They kicked their spending splurge off with a $75,000 team building exercise, where attendees built bicycles (seriously) and received lame T-shirts. Then there were various $5,600 in-room parties, $31,000 "networking receptions" and assorted mysterious catering bills, such as a $7,000 sushi bill.
When you start looking at the smaller stuff, the madness truly unfolds: They bought water bottles ($2,782), commemorative coins ($6,325) and actual goddamn yearbooks ($8,130), because apparently the GSA is staffed entirely by high schoolers. Perhaps the most mind-blowing expenditure was $44 per head for breakfast. That is, for each breakfast, every single day. Hell, don't most hotels throw that in for free?
Each and every aspect of the trip was filled with ridiculously inflated bills like that, to the point that the whole trip ended up costing $822,000. That's $2,740 per attendee. For a five-day convention.
And that doesn't even count the "diamond fight" portion of the team building exercise.
Unsurprisingly, the expenses led to an investigation where a bunch of other anomalies were uncovered, including this gem:
To select a venue and plan the conference, GSA employees conducted two "scouting trips," five off-site planning meetings, and a "dry run." Six of these planning events took place at the M Resort (the conference venue) itself.