Mica Leads Effort to Stop Outrageous GSA Spending
May 2, 2012
Despite Senate Democrat Leader Harry Reid’s public criticism, I announced hearings on the lavish Las Vegas General Services Administration conference and other GSA waste. Leader Reid said I needed to “get a life.” Ignoring his remarks, I went forward with a full scale investigation relating to this agency’s culture of wasteful spending. This one conference was just the tip of the iceberg as evidenced by my previous work to fight GSA’s mismanagement of federal buildings.
Because of our hearing’s high visibility, more whistleblowers came forward and the Committee uncovered dozens of outrageous GSA junkets—some as recently as this March—at luxury resorts in Palm Springs, Napa Valley, Hawaii, Guam, and the South Pacific. The Committee also learned that senior Administration officials were briefed on the systemic abuse of taxpayer dollars in May 2011 and yet failed to put an end to the lavish travel or discipline those responsible. As a result of the public attention and congressional hearings, the junkets have stopped and numerous employees are finally being held accountable. One senior GSA executive involved remains on the government’s payroll, and I am working to get such offenders immediately taken off the federal dole.
I began my efforts to clean up GSA waste several years ago and released a report in October 2010 entitled, “Sitting On Our Assets: The Federal Government’s Misuse of Taxpayer-Owned Assets.” That investigative report detailed billions of taxpayer losses from thousands of empty or underutilized federal buildings and properties.
One of the first hearings I held as Chairman of the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee was a few blocks from the White House in a landmark building, which had been losing $6 million a year for the last 15 years. Just this year we forced action to have the private sector redevelop the valuable but underutilized property and turn it into a revenue producer for the taxpayer. I also conducted hearings in other empty federal buildings to call attention to GSA waste and push legislation through the House of Representatives to force the sale, redevelopment, and improved efficiency of thousands of similar properties across the country.
My efforts continue to reform and dismantle the culture of waste at GSA, hold officials accountable for their actions, and stop the federal government from sitting on its assets. I will not be deterred from my goal of saving billions of hard earned taxpayer dollars.