What is going on at the General Services Administration (GSA) is the best example of a bureaucracy that is unaware of its excesses. How else could the waste of more than $800,000 for a party in Las Vegas be explained? Ironically, part of the work of this federal agency is to develop cost-control policies for the federal government.
In the past 20 years, there were at least three cases involving irregularities in the GSA, under a Democratic president and Republican presidents. In 1991, the agency was defined as “a rat hole” for public money by a federal auditor. In 2006, a GSA chief of staff was involved in the Abramoff lobbying and corruption case. That same year, a GSA administrator tried to stop the inspector general from supervising the agency and was later accused by an independent investigation of playing politics from her position.
Despite the past, the administration in charge must take responsibility for the present. Therefore, this hot potato comes at a bad time for President Obama in a re-election year.
Meanwhile, this is exactly what the Republicans wanted. Congressman Darrell Issa (R-CA), who for a while has looked for reasons to use his House Oversight and Government Reform Committee to investigate the Obama administration, is conducting hearings to investigate what happened at the GSA.
We think it’s necessary to know where common sense failed in the GSA, what made them do something so foolish in Las Vegas, which included hiring a “mind reader” as “motivator” for the federal agency’s conference. The fact that conference organizer Jeff Neely invoked the Fifth Amendment-against self-incrimination-during the hearings shows the way things are headed.
However, we think it’s a mistake to take advantage of this case to claim that the scandal resulted from a government that is too big-and even less to justify looking for a connection to the White House.
The GSA’s excesses should be thoroughly investigated to avoid a reoccurrence. It would be a shame to miss an opportunity to fix the agency’s problems because of election politics.