Expressing disdain for the General Services Administration scandal, Rep. Chuck Fleischmann said the time for wasteful government spending on conferences is over.
In a statement issued Wednesday afternoon, the congressman announced he would be introducing legislation aimed at curbing excessive spending and misconduct of federal employees on events similar to the recently reported conference attended by GSA workers.
Earlier this week, House committee hearings zeroed in on a 2010 conference attended by 300 GSA employees at a cost of more than $830,000 in taxpayer dollars. The conference was held at a luxury hotel in Las Vegas, and other instances of reckless spending by GSA workers were also reported.
When introduced, the bill will be Fleischmann's sixth since taking office last year.
Describing the GSA scandal as "outrageous," the congressman said government agencies needed to be held to higher standards of responsibility and accountability.
"Not only did the agency spend millions of taxpayer dollars on swanky conferences and vacations, but employees openly bragged about it on video," Fleischmann said. "In my office, our expenses are accountable to the American people. It's time for federal agencies to do the same, and that is why my bill will introduce accountability for federal conferences."
Fleischmann's bill will require agency heads to approve any conference or retreat costing more than $25,000, and it would also require them to post details and a rationale for attending the event online. Agency heads would also be required to submit an annual report to Congressional Committee jurisdiction, describing in detail the activities and goals of the conference or event.
Exemptions would be allowed for conferences involving the armed forces or conferences that were classified or related to national security.
Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., introduced a similar piece of legislation Wednesday that would require agency heads to approve conferences costing more than $200,000.
Updated @ 9:07 a.m. to correct a typographical error.
Updated @ 2:34 p.m. on 1/15/13 to correct a typographical error.
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