SHAHEEN REQUESTS AUDIT OF CONFERENCE SPENDING AT AGENCIES

May 01, 2012

(Washington, DC) – With taxpayers across the country expressing outrage over the recent discovery of inappropriate spending by the U.S. General Services Administration (GSA) at a Las Vegas conference, U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) requested that all top-level Administration agencies submit a detailed report on their conference spending. Shaheen sent letters to the inspectors general of all 15 Cabinet-level agencies asking them to ensure that use of taxpayer funds is in line with federal law and regulations.

“I share the public’s concern with the recent revelations of excessive spending at the GSA conference in Las Vegas,” Shaheen said. “This spending not only shows an inappropriate use of taxpayer money, but it also reveals an alarming lack of accountability and oversight in this department. When such failures of oversight come to light, it is important that we ensure that similar problems are not occurring elsewhere.”

Below is the letter sent by Shaheen to the inspectors general of Cabinet-level agencies.

Dear Inspector General:

 

In light of the recent discovery of wasteful and inappropriate spending on conferences at the General Services Administration, I am sure you recognize the need for thorough scrutiny of these expenditures.  I request that you provide my office with any investigations of conference spending your office has produced and, if you have not examined such spending in detail, that you perform an audit of any questionable conference expenses to ensure taxpayer funds have been spent in accordance with federal law and regulations.

 

As you know, the General Service Administration’s (GSA) Inspector General recently released a report on the agency’s $832,000 conference in Las Vegas in 2010.  The investigation revealed a significant lack of accountability at GSA and detailed numerous instances of waste and excess that violated federal procurement law and the agency’s own policies. 

 

The Obama Administration has taken a number of landmark steps to improve transparency in federal spending and reduce waste.  Last year, President Obama issued an Executive Order directing all federal agencies to reduce spending on conferences and travel by 20 percent by FY 2013.  In addition, Recovery.gov, Usaspending.gov, and other online portals have facilitated an unprecedented level of public access to data on federal spending. 

 

Despite these significant reforms, the scale of GSA’s wasteful spending and the participation of the agency’s leadership in creating a culture of excess necessitate that we ensure conference expenses in other federal government agencies are entirely appropriate and necessary.  I hope you will agree that as American families are struggling to make ends meet, we must remain vigilant and act quickly to uncover and stop any other instances of wasteful expenditures.

 

Thank you for your assistance with this matter.  For more information, please be in touch with Andrew Zabel of my staff at (202) 224-2841.

 

Sincerely,

 

Jeanne Shaheen

United States Senator

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