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Senators ask IG to expand GSA investigation

May. 16, 2012 - 11:43AM   |  
By SEAN REILLY   |   Comments

The General Services Administration’s inspector general will significantly expand his investigations into possible waste, fraud and abuse at the agency in the wake of a scandal concerning excessive conference spending.

Two senators have asked GSA’s inspector general, Brian Miller, to examine purchase card usage, contracting practices, and other travel and conference spending to see “whether there is a broader management crisis at GSA.”

The move follows last month’s release of an IG investigation into GSA’s 2010 Western Regions Conference in Las Vegas that cost $823,000 for some 300 staffers. The excessive spending detailed by the IG led to the quick ouster of GSA’s top leadership, several congressional hearings, and a series of reforms to rein in travel and conference spending.

In their May 10 letter, Sens. Joe Lieberman, I-Conn., and Susan Collins, R-Maine, specifically ask Miller to review:

• Other contracts for conferences held by GSA regional offices, and invoices related to those contracts. If an initial inquiry shows “extravagant or potentially illegal” conference spending, Miller should conduct a full investigation along the lines of the Western Regions Conference probe.

• A sample of other contracts issued on behalf of the regional offices to determine how often they violate procurement rules. The Western Regions Conference report shows that GSA officials repeatedly refused to seek multiple contracts bids, the senators wrote, thus failing to obtain “fair and reasonable prices for the government.”

• The use of government purchase cards by GSA employees. Two years ago, Daniel Voll, the then-deputy Public Buildings Service commissioner for Region 9, which includes Nevada,">pleaded guilty to embezzlement related to purchase card spending on luxury hotels, dining and spas. Given that his conviction failed to trigger adequate oversight of Region 9 by GSA headquarters, Lieberman and Collins questioned “whether GSA has sufficiently rigorous internal controls on purchase card procurements.”

Lieberman chairs the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, which oversees GSA; Collins is the panel’s top Republican.

The two also asked Miller for his views on possible improvements to GSA’s internal funding oversight. Allegations about the Western Regions Conference came to the IG’s attention because of a request by GSA’s deputy administrator, they wrote. “Are there changes to the organizational structure, investigative techniques, or audit protocols of your office that would have triggered earlier detection?” they asked. “Do you have recommendations on GSA’s organizational structure or its internal controls that would deter such waste and abuse?”">IG, lawmakers allege other waste by GSA's Neely (April 17)">GSA scandal referred to Justice for possible criminal charges (April 13)">GSA officials responded weakly at first to IG revelations (April 13)

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