The Government Man is Back – What ever happened to the GSA scandal?

My blog posts on the GSA so-called scandal and my first You Tube posting received plenty of attention so I figured I would follow it up with more good cheer. I hope my message got across and reason is starting to prevail.

What happened to the GSA scandal? It’s barely in the news anymore – even the Washington Post seems to have forgotten about it. No more hearings. I kind of miss the hearings because I love bad acting. No more people being put on administrative leave pending further action. No more announcements of cancelled conferences and no more phony outrage. Even Jay Leno stopped telling jokes about it. Did the hotel industry lobby get to the Congress? They’ve got to make a living, too. The best part is no more innuendoes from the inspector general about his findings that took 18 months.

The truth is that this was a non-scandal from the start. Sure, a few people messed up and that has to be addressed – I don’t deny that. Some more controls have to be put in place, government-wide, to control overzealous spending on the hospitality industry and self serving travel, which is something quite familiar to our Congress. OMB’s new conferencing restrictions are a start.

In the realm of total government waste this scandal is like a pimple on an elephant. The money purportedly wasted here wouldn’t amount to tip money for a first lady vacation. It’s been pure grandstanding for political purposes.

There are a lot better scandals with which to be concerned. The Secret Service caper compromised the security of the president. What about Earmark money going to organizations which later employed the very same elected officials that supported their funding? Were there hearings on that one with phony outrage? Maybe take a look at the 4 billion a year that IRS sends to non-resident dependents of “undocumented immigrants.” These are far more worthy of the term “scandal.” Thrown in FHA mortgage fraud for good measure.

The GSA hearings, at taxpayer expense, focused on Monte Cristo sandwiches, shrimp cocktails and tee shirts – by a group incapable of passing a budget and that hasn’t done a thing about the national debt except to pile more on for our grandkids. Give us a break! The hearings were for the cameras. The chair people should have saved the photo ops for GSA groundbreakings in their districts.

Back to the inspector general report which was 18 months in the making. If my projects were that far behind schedule I would have been sent so far away that Government Executive wouldn’t be able to find me. If Apple or Microsoft’s auditors took that long to investigate something, their companies’ trade secrets would have been all over the internet and they would have all been fired.

Could it be that we heard nothing lately because Mr. IG just doesn’t have very much? We know that a few people made some unconscionable judgment errors, but is that all you have after the showboating? Considering that the so-called informants are unnamed employees in casual conversations and DOJ hasn’t jumped at the opportunity to prosecute this case, where is it going? I’ve referred cases to DOJ. Unless you have solid evidence that will stand up in a court of law they will send it right back for administrative resolution which is what could have and should have been done in the first place. If a few people got freebies they shouldn’t have had, this was terrible judgment but certainly not worth turning a well-performing agency into a police state.

Three political appointees are gone . That’s a risk they take. Some ten high paid career employees are on administrative leave, lawyered up and getting full pay while GSA ponders its next moves. Some have been served with papers already. It’s been seven weeks. Considering the sketchy evidence and the appeal process, this can go on for quite a while, even after people are removed. You can do the math. Guaranteed that those falsely charged or not given due process will walk away with a bundle. I always said that there’s no adversity so great that someone can’t make a buck on it.

On the Obama side, this rush to judgment for political showmanship and the perception of quick and decisive action has already cost the government more than the value of the whole non-scandal. The White House has all but admitted with its press releases that it ordered the firings. On the Romney side, the negative campaign ads citing the Vegas caper are nothing short of despicable.

My original point still stands. Resolve this quickly and fairly, internally. Put controls in place as needed and punish the guilty using due process, not the media. Don’t destroy the agency because of a political power play which is exactly what this is and don’t railroad the wrong people because it always comes back to haunt.

Just as a side note I observed that rep. Mica will be scheduling a new hearing on what to do with GSA, including the possibility of “retiring” it. That, of course will never happen (see my prior blogs for my reasoning). Curiously, a star witness is a former GSA administrator who played the system for all it was worth both during and after his term. He, more than anyone, would know the results of compulsive personnel moves without due process. His administration cost the government dearly. This hearing should set a new high in political bs.

Check out my latest You Tube posting.

You can find me at www.thegovernmentman.com. It’s always nice to hear from you.

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Corey McCarren

Always interesting to hear an alternative opinion and definitely an enjoyable read. I think the worry is that the agency wouldn’t handle it internally since it was the leaders perpetrating the over-spending. Of course, you’re right that in the end everything is political posturing for the “outraged” politicians.

Alan L. Greenberg

Thanks Corey. After I did this post found out that GSA actually did take some action. Since I haven’t verified it I don’t want to state it here, but considering the outrage – real or staged – and the presumed extent of the transgressions, the “sentences” were pretty light. It tells me that 1. GSA is trying to make it go away quickly and quietly while still reporting to the White House that they took swift action, and; 2. There is no real solid evidence to support anything more severe, notwithstanding the IG’s testimony. See my previous blogs and my first You Tube post for my comments on the IG report.