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Tags: Editor's Pick | mica | gsa | waste | raises | property | hearings

Mica to Newsmax: 'Multi-Billion Dollar Waste' at GSA

By    |   Wednesday, 01 August 2012 08:24 PM

Insisting that the General Services Administration’s bureaucrats-gone-wild party in Las Vegas may be the “tip of the iceberg,” Rep. John Mica tells Newsmax.TV that wasteful practices by the agency could top billions when all is said and done.

“It has to be the poster child for bad management,” declared Mica in an exclusive interview after emerging from Wednesday’s hearing on the embattled agency by the House Transportation & Infrastructure Committee, which is chaired by the Florida Republican.

“They had one individual, he made about $85,000 in his base pay; got $115,000 in overtime. This is incredible,” observed Mica. “Business would go bankrupt if they operated on that basis. But these folks have been on a steady regimen of using up taxpayer money, eating up public funds and not being responsible — and then stonewalling Congress, and then giving different answers.”

Story continues below video.

Wednesday’s hearing revealed that GSA employees, who make up only 1 percent of the federal workforce, are reaping 10 percent of the entire federal government's bonus checks — accounting for $44 million last year alone.

Editor's Note: Economist Unapologetically Calls Out Bernanke, Obama For Mishandling Economy. See What They Did.

“Some folks have not had pay raises in the federal government. And then if you get outside the federal government, people have lost their jobs, their homes and can’t understand how you can be giving $50,000 bonuses,” acknowledged Mica. “Then we found some of the bonuses went to people who have been removed, or who will be removed for poor and abusive performance.”

But Mica acknowledged that’s nowhere near as costly to taxpayers as the vacant government buildings that could be generating revenue.

“This is the tip of the iceberg. This will be in the millions of wasteful spending,” he explained. “But we have billions because GSA oversees 14,000 buildings and properties and, of that, many of them — most of them — are vacant or underutilized.”

One building two blocks from the White House had been empty for 15 years at a cost to taxpayers of $6 to $7 million per year.

“We’ve turned that one around,” he said, also pointing to an empty power building in the toney Georgetown section of Washington, D.C. that had sat empty for 11 years.

“This is multi-billion dollar waste,” he charged, noting a “deafening silence” from the White House with respect to GSA’s wasteful practices prior to the matter being cast into public scrutiny by his committee.

He said that the now iconic hot tub photo of a GSA employee in Las Vegas only “epitomized the wasteful government spending” that has caused officials to expand their investigation into some 77 GSA conferences.

Mica said that Wednesday’s testimony by GSA Chief Administrative Services Officer Cynthia Metzler “was not very convincing.” He said he thinks that GSA is again involved in “some outlandish spending” as reports surfaced of a GSA training conference in Nashville this week.

“We have to confirm that through our investigators and then the Inspector General investigators,” he said, noting that it may be time to outsource the GSA function to a private company.

“Well the sad commentary is we’re trying to find an alternative and bring in some professionals that deal with property management, some of the other issues,” he said, adding that he believes GSA has intimidated anyone from testifying on a “positive” alternative.

“It’s very difficult. But we’re not going to stop. We’re going to hold people accountable. We’re going to make certain this doesn’t happen again,” he asserted. “You have to change administrative procedures; we’ll do that and personnel and get rid of bad performers. Then the final thing is if we have to change the law we’ll change the law. But this can’t — and should not happen again, not in the United States.”

Lawmakers became suspicious of GSA bonuses when they noticed a 300 percent increase in administrative costs.

“We knew when their administrative costs had mushroomed to 300 percent that something was wrong,” Mica recalled. “So we tried to get the information working with the Inspector General and I have to give credit, too, to the media.”

Editor's Note: Economist Unapologetically Calls Out Bernanke, Obama For Mishandling Economy. See What They Did.

In addition to cleaning up wasteful practices at GSA and other government agencies, Mica said that lawmakers must extend the Bush-era tax cuts to get the economy back on track.

“We really need to do this if we want to see the economy grow,” he said. “Our fiscal policy is in disarray and we’re not going to get the economy and the economic engine of this country going until Congress does have some long-term sound financial policy that encourages investment and encourages the creation of jobs and expansion of small business, which is the primary economic generator.”

Editor's Note: A GSA spokesman, Dan Cruz, contacted Newsmax after this story was published. In his e-mail, he wrote:

"Upon his arrival to GSA in April 2012, the new head of GSA, Dan Tangherlini, immediately began the process of reviewing all agency operations as part of his comprehensive top-to-bottom review. This review has already uncovered clear deficiencies in past spending.

"Tangherlini has instituted several stringent new policies on spending to put an end to misuse of taxpayer dollars. Tangherlini has also cut executive bonuses and instituted a hiring freeze across the agency. He has consolidated oversight of conference and travel expenses. In addition, he’s cancelled 37 conferences, saving millions in taxpayer dollars, and directed a review of each and every planned future conference and related travel to ensure they are justified.

"Further reforms are forthcoming as part of our rigorous top-to-bottom review."

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Wednesday, 01 August 2012 08:24 PM
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