In the wake of the conference scandal at the General Services Administration, Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) has expanded the Oversight and Government Reform Committee’s probe into wasteful spending to all government agencies. In letters to the heads of 23 departments and agencies, Issa asked for conference records for the last seven years.
In a letter addressed to Attorney General Eric Holder, Issa requested a list of all overnight conferences funded by the department and attended by more than 50 employees since Jan. 1, 2005. He also requested the dates, locations, costs, funding sources and number of attendees.
In addition, he asked for the names, titles and salaries of all department employees responsible for planning events, plus links to websites associated with any events.
Similar letters were sent to the heads of the following departments and agencies: the Social Security Administration, National Science Foundation, Office of Personnel Management, NASA, Commerce, Energy, State, Housing and Urban Development, Education, Treasury, Environmental Protection Agency, Transportation, Small Business Administration, Department of Homeland Security, Defense, Interior, Health and Human Services, U.S. Agency for International Development, Veterans Affairs, Labor, Agriculture and the General Services Administration.
In the letter, Issa connected the Las Vegas conference scandal to his previous efforts to expose wasteful spending at SSA in 2009. He quoted President Barack Obama — who, at an Indiana town hall meeting in 2009, said: “You can’t go take a trip to Las Vegas or go down to the Super Bowl on the taxpayers’ dime,” in reference to bank executives who took bailout money from the government.
Issa also quoted from a 2011 executive order in which the president urged agencies to be more efficient with travel spending, embrace video conferencing and limit commemorative items. He listed several examples where agencies appeared to be flouting that order.
“As families around the country are having to spend less to make ends meet, the federal government must follow suit. The American people have an expectation that the federal government is not using their tax dollars to pay for lavish conferences or to fund the salaries of event planners,” Issa said.
Issa requested agencies produce the documents by April 23.