A five-day Western Regions Conference at Las Vegas in October 2010 for 300 people cost more than $822,751, according to a report from the General Services Administration’s inspector general.
Along with excessive spending violations, the report claims that a $58,808 contract was given to large audio and visual services company, Royal Productions, when federal law requires them to be awarded to small businesses, according to the Washington Post.
The report says the GSA also failed to list the contract on the government’s Federal Business Opportunities and they gave Royal a competing bidder’s quote, which allowed Royal to win the contract.
“The diversion of small-business contracts to large corporations has gone on for a dozen years, and the only thing the government has done in response is remove the transparency,” Lloyd Chapman, president of the American Small Business League, said, according to the Post.
The federal government wants to give 23 percent of contract dollars to small businesses each year, but data says that 72 of the 100 companies getting most of the small-business contracts in 2011 exceeded the Small Business Administration’s size standards.
The Washington Examiner reported that a video has been found of GSA employees joking about their extravagant spending of taxpayer dollars at the Las Vegas conference. GSA Administrator Martha Johnson resigned after the conference made the news, and two of her deputies were fired.
The Washington Post reported that the conference featured a clown, a mind reader, a $31,208 reception, $130,000 in travel expenses for six scouting trips and a $2,000 party in a suite. President Obama was said to be livid at the report, and called for “all those responsible to be held fully accountable.”
CNN reminds us that a statement Obama made in February 2009 to the nine banks who received bailouts was also intended to apply to the federal government. Obama said, "You can't get corporate jets, take a trip to Las Vegas, or go down to the Super Bowl on the taxpayers' dime."