More GSA party news…using your tax dollar

This past April we told you about how the General Services Administration spent over $800,000 of your money on, among other things, an extravagant gala in Las Vegas.  It seems as if the fun didn’t stop in Las Vegas.  There was more GSA “fun” just outside of Washington, D.C.

On July 11 the Acting Director of GSA, Dan Tangherlini, sent a report to Congress concerning a November 17, 2010 “awards ceremony” put on by the Federal Acquisition Services, a division of the GSA.  Mr. Tangherlini has been Acting Director since the previous director left after the first scandal became public…I’m sure to spend more time with his family.

You will be happy to know that this awards ceremony only cost you $268,732… heck, a mere pittance by comparison to what you spent in Las Vegas.

You can read a complete list of what you spent at the above link, but several things caught my eye.  You spent $20, 578.24 to provide 4000 drumsticks to the attendees…not food, actual drumsticks.  I am certain though, that each attendee will cherish his or her drumsticks for life, and, if given the opportunity would thank you in person for such a thoughtful gift.

You also spent $28,364.45 to provide 4000 time/temperature picture frames to the attendees.  Again, a thoughtful gift on your part.

Here is the sad truth.  If a federal agency doesn’t spend all of the money in their fiscal year’s budget, the next year’s budget will be cut back to what they actually spent.  This creates a disincentive for department or agency heads to use your tax dollars wisely.

With the possible exception of the Department of Defense, you could reduce each agency’s budget by at least 5% annually and they wouldn’t skip a beat.

OK, they wouldn’t be able to provide trips to Las Vegas, or drumsticks, for that matter, but they could easily perform the functions we pay them to do.


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The Sound Off Sister was an Assistant United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, and special trial attorney for the Department of Justice, Criminal Division; a partner in the Florida law firm of Shutts & Bowen, and an adjunct professor at the University of Miami, School of Law. The Sound Off Sister offers frequent commentary concerning legislation making its way through Congress, including the health reform legislation passed in early 2010.


  1. sammy22 on July 20, 2012 at 6:35 pm

    It would have been a lot better if this was caught in 2010, even better if caught before they spent the money. Congress oversight is always too late!

    • SoundOffSister on July 20, 2012 at 8:08 pm

      Congress oversight!!!? The real question is why are these idiots engaging in this conduct to begin with?? And, more to the point, why do they believe they can do it with impunity??

      Oh, I forgot, it’s not their money.?

    • dairyair on July 20, 2012 at 9:01 pm

      The crux of the problem is the fact that they “have to” spend their entire budget or (HORRORS!) it might get cut. We need leg1slation to? provide incentive for maybe saving us wagon pullers a few sheckles.

    • Dimsdale on July 21, 2012 at 11:07 pm

      “Spend it or lose it” is also a fact of life for those with NIH grants etc.? I recall my boss once telling me ” we have $10,000 left in the grant, make a list of stuff we can buy” before the grant period ended.? Of course, than never included a salary for me, but I digress!? 😉
      Seriously, grantees and other recipients of gov’t money should be obligated to return money that remains unspent, particularly in tough times when grants are being cut.

  2. sammy22 on July 20, 2012 at 11:52 pm

    The horrors, SOS. Keep pulling this canard: “It’s not their money”. It’s their money too. And it’s even the money of the other public employees who do pull these shenanigans. And it’s even the money of the despicable Liberals. It’s not just the money of the saintly Conservatives.

    • Tim-in-Alabama on July 21, 2012 at 12:43 am

      ?If SOS posts it; you’re against it. It’s Pavlovian.

    • JBS on July 21, 2012 at 6:34 am

      For quite a while, we have been blessed with the poster child of snark. Long on irreverent questions, pestiferous prodding, and thinly veiled ad hominem assaults , our lefty-friend can be mildly irritating. No matter.
      Once you look past the intentional vexing, there are one or two postings of genuine insight. Best not to encourage or notice too much. I’m sure that good is meant.

    • Dimsdale on July 21, 2012 at 11:08 pm

      Do I hear a bell ringing?? 😉

  3. JollyRoger on July 21, 2012 at 2:18 am

    I think the public sector spendthrifts just get paid twice as much or more than private sector folks doing same work, they also get better benefits and better hours…? Private sector people appreciate the taxes because they’ve got less take home than public sector folks.? On top of this, private sector folks get lower raises and struggle for simple things like stationery while public sector folks get drumsticks and use-it-or-lose-it money from the stash!

  4. winnie on July 21, 2012 at 5:36 am

    “Agency heads” need to roll.? This is Obama’s fault — he set the mood for the spending since 2008.? I’m surprised that the GSA even *has* a budget.

  5. JBS on July 21, 2012 at 7:35 am

    This must happen with more regularity than ones in every eight months. There has to be more federal organizations that party hearty on the taxpayer’s dime. (And, they will tell you they deserve it!) Once again, our LSM is letting the people of America down by reporting only the “easy” stories. The ones dropped on a “reporter’s” desk. Digging into deep background and actually building a story is so 20th Century.
    We have only to look to our president to gauge the tone of party central. Almost weekly golf outings, lavish, sumptuous vacations, jaunts to foreign countries to shop, rubbing elbows with the world’s elite and attending fundraising galas with mega-bucks entertainers (all paid for by us) are the hallmarks of this administration. What’s a party animal not to like and emulate?
    How about a reward for not spending an agencies’ budget? Novel, I know.
    (perhaps a three-night at the Yankee Peddler, third floor, with Continental?)

  6. sammy22 on July 21, 2012 at 12:19 pm

    It would be better if the exchanges on the posts would lean toward constructive dialogue. Accentuating the negative has become too common and I am guilty of falling in that trap. If the GSA shenanigans were a thing of the past, it would be a good thing. I still maintain that Congress has an obligation to oversee how the money they authorize is being spent. If that’s not the case then it’s a free for all.

    • Dimsdale on July 21, 2012 at 11:12 pm

      “Accentuating the negative” or simply pointing out that which the lefty media is loathe to report?
      Congress absolutely has an obligation to oversee these agencies.? But who watches the watcher, a problem that even the Romans seemed to suffer from (Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?)?

  7. Tim-in-Alabama on July 21, 2012 at 12:39 pm

    We need real-time Congressional oversight of wasteful government spending. Departments should use only electronic debit cards for their expenditures, and when they go over pre-set spending limits, a buzzer should sound in the Capital. Then Congress can rush into action to put an immediate end to the waste and fraud.

    • Dimsdale on July 21, 2012 at 11:13 pm

      Wouldn’t something like those “invisible fence” collars for dogs be a better solution?? 😉

  8. Anybody but Obama on July 21, 2012 at 12:55 pm

    Lets face it this has gone on for years and many administrations. There’s no accountability, in the private sector someone would get fired, if you want it to stop in the public sector fire the ones who are responsible and it will stop.

  9. phil on July 22, 2012 at 7:44 am

    ….” but they could easily perform the functions we?pay them to do.”? Since they barely do those functions, reduce their budget by 95%. Washington needs to share in the 8.whatever % unemployment rate.

    • Lynn on July 22, 2012 at 9:11 am

      Wow, Phil, I love your idea. Hey it’s something to shoot for, oh I did not mean to be so UnPC.
      I really do think your idea has merit. Better??

  10. JBS on July 22, 2012 at 8:02 am

    To say that this continued misdirection of agency funds is a fact of life ignores the real problem. Government, with all of the myriad Departments, agencies, alphabet organizations, commissions, government corporations? and various groups, etc. — don’t forget those Czars — has long ago become too large for any meaningful oversight. A credit card would be an simplification of how governmental groups are funded and draw expenses. Congress allocates money, it is put into accounts and the funds are drawn out by the responsible (or not) agency. This works well in theory and, not at all with “black” funded organizations. There are simply too many transactions, too much money and too many people with access to it.
    Smaller, leaner government is the only solution. It will cost less, too.

  11. Dimsdale on July 23, 2012 at 10:36 am

    These parties are the GSA equivalent of Marie Antoinette’s “let them eat cake”.? Certainly the elitist attitude is the same.


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