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Rep. Darrell Issa Blasts GSA Oversight Breakdown

US Capitol Building
US Capitol Building

The General Services Administration spending spree will mean that Congress will have to get to the bottom of what went wrong, Rep. Darrell Issa said Monday.

“Why did it really take this long to come out with it? Why is it nothing happened when the 60-day preliminary report happened? Why were there no real changes — no changes of any substance — during that 11 months that intervened?” Issa, R-Calif., said on “The Kudlow Report.”

“We need to have a heads-up much earlier,” he added.

An internal governmental memo released last week showed that GSA officials were aware of the problem before the scandal made headlines earlier this month.

So far, GSA administrator Martha Johnson has resigned and eight employees have been placed on administrative leave after $823,000 was reportedly spent on a conference that included expenses for a clown suit, bicycles used in a team-building exercise, tuxedos and a mind-reader.

GSA Deputy Administrator Susan Brita wrote in July that the costs did not lend themselves to the claim of a substantive conference.

Brita also called out the agency for a disciplinary letter given to regional administrator Jeff Neely in charge of the conference. She said the disciplinary letter was “not even a slap on the wrist.”

On Monday, Neely invoked his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination in a Congressional committee hearing on the matter.

“Obviously, you know, that right now everyone who’s thought about a conference anywhere in America is now second-guessing what the expenses are and whether they need that conference, and that’s a good thing. That’s something that should’ve happened three years ago, or maybe many years before that,” said Issa, who chairs the Congressional Committee on Oversight & Government Reform.

“We’ve got to get out of the idea that somebody, five or six people, have to go to Hawaii for three or four or five days in advance so they can have a 10-minute ribbon-cutting for a building,” he added.

Issa also defended the role of the GSA in saving taxpayer dollars.

“If you’re as big a purchaser as the federal government, you should bid it initially, get a deep discount — 20, 30, 40 percent — and then people can buy off that schedule,” he said. “That system can and should save us a lot of money.”

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