Employee says GSA spent 'millions' on relocation
April 12th, 2012
01:23 PM ET
2 years ago

Employee says GSA spent 'millions' on relocation

Washington (CNN) – House Republicans released new information exposing excess spending by the General Services Administration beyond the now infamous 2010 Las Vegas convention.

The agency appears to have spent $330,000 to relocate an employee from Denver to Hawaii, and likely "millions" on others over a two year period.

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That information comes from an interview with a GSA event planner conducted by an investigator with the GSA inspector general in March, 2011. The transcript of the interview was provided to CNN by the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee.

It is unclear from the transcript whether the government was reimbursed for any of the expenses.

The interview was largely about spending at the convention, but the unnamed GSA event planner volunteered that another part of his or her job was to relocate other employees.

In the one particular relocation from Denver to Hawaii costing the GSA $330,000, the event planner said the employee "stayed on for just the one year and then quit. Left the GSA," despite signing an agreement to stay on after relocation, "Wow that is wasting taxpayer money," the investigator said.

It "blew me away when I saw how much it costs to relocate somebody. It's crazy. It's astronomical. Hundreds of thousands of dollars," for one person, said the GSA event planner.

According to this transcript, relocation allowances generally included: a house hunting trip, temporary quarters for one to 30 days (which could be extended to 90 days), a vehicle shipped, $25 per diem, as well as groceries and laundry.

"I mean it's outrageous," said the GSA event planner.

Beyond that, the event planner said the government picked up the tab for closing costs on a home purchase, and if the person relocating can't sell their house, "we have a guarantee that we'll buy it" and "sell it off to somebody else."

"In the past two years how much do you think you've seen spent," asked the Inspector General investigator.

"Oh millions," replied the GSA event planner.

"How many employees are we talking about," the investigator later asked.

"I'd say, right now, probably about 15 files on my desk," said the GSA event planner.

"That's amazing, Thank you for sharing that with me," the investigator responded.

The event planner then said he or she is going to "get myself in trouble."

"How can you get yourself in trouble for talking to the Inspector General's office about cost?" the investigator asked.

In an indication GSA officials knew this kind of spending was over the top, the event planner later said "my management team had told me not to tell anyone how much those things cost because people would just be really surprised at what we spent, you know, to relocate..."

"Who said not to tell anybody?" the investigator asked.

"It was the people in budget and financial management," replied the event planner.

House Oversight and Government Reform Chairman Darrell Issa said in a statement "GSA's culture of lavish spending clearly goes well beyond a single convention. It's troubling to see the agency tasked with setting the standard for accountability and cost-cutting across the government evidently engaging in such abusive spending."

CNN provided this transcript to a GSA spokesman who said he is looking into it.

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Filed under: Congress • House • Republicans
soundoff (13 Responses)
  1. Rudy NYC

    "It is unclear from the transcript whether the government was reimbursed for any of the expenses. "
    ------------------
    Moving expenses is a tax deduction in the private sector. $330k is an exorbitant figure, but that would be up to the IRS to catch in an audit. So, how is it supposed to work for the public sector, which files not taxes?

    April 12, 2012 01:43 pm at 1:43 pm |
  2. RealityBites

    "It is unclear from the transcript whether the government was reimbursed for any of the expenses."

    Unclear!? When do employers ever get reimbursed for moving assistance?? Never!!
    Which means that someone, with an invested interest, added this stmt as spin. Shame on CNN.

    April 12, 2012 01:46 pm at 1:46 pm |
  3. Rudy NYC

    RealityBites wrote:

    "It is unclear from the transcript whether the government was reimbursed for any of the expenses."

    Unclear!? When do employers ever get reimbursed for moving assistance?? Never!!
    Which means that someone, with an invested interest, added this stmt as spin. Shame on CNN.
    ----------------------
    Professional employess can get reimbursed all of the time. When they do, then the company deducts it from their taxes as an expense. I guess you don't know that you can deduct moving expenses to a new job off of your federal income taxes. In fact, you can even deduct expenses related to searching for a job off of your taxes.

    April 12, 2012 01:56 pm at 1:56 pm |
  4. Joan

    Hopefully there will be full disclosure about how much this agency spent during the previous administration and how many of these people worked there during that time. It has been reported that the spending by this agency more than tripled during the Bush years so that should be investigated. Also it was reported that a convention during the Bush years cost nundreds of thousands also. To be fair, this should all be made public. It is being characterized as an Obama administration scandal when it really has been going on for years.

    April 12, 2012 02:02 pm at 2:02 pm |
  5. SOUTHERN HOTTIE

    Somehow that this is President Obama's fault in 3..........2................1.......... go GOP nuts!

    April 12, 2012 02:04 pm at 2:04 pm |
  6. Cynthia

    Employees left over from the Bush years, is more like it. I see some overlap problems that came in with the new administration. Especially after the video of them making fun of the President's green program surfaced.
    Republicans are NOT green, except with envy.

    April 12, 2012 02:14 pm at 2:14 pm |
  7. The Real Truth and Nothing But the The Real Truth

    Is it any wonder why the government spends trillions more than we have?! Sure doesn't make me want to send them even more of my money so these fools can party in Hawaii.

    April 12, 2012 02:19 pm at 2:19 pm |
  8. Mikey

    Thanks GSA, I enjoy you making the rest of us public workers look terrible. Nice to know the 4.6 mil I saved the tax payer on DoD projects went to you having fun in Vegas and Hawaii. Somehow the DoD can't get me $100 in travel funds to drive 60 miles to verify 12.7 Mil in taxpayer acquired property but GSA can pay for some SES d-bag 300K to move to Hawaii.

    If this was me, I'd be fired and sent to jail. But the SES people that signed off on this will probably get off with early retirement because they are just like Congress, people that think they deserve something more other than a decent salary, retirement pay, and the privledge of helping to make this country better.

    April 12, 2012 02:26 pm at 2:26 pm |
  9. Another Day in the Idiot Mines (not the whiny rightwing liar)

    "Unclear!? When do employers ever get reimbursed for moving assistance?? Never!!"

    Yer either an idiot or someone with no experience in the world of white collar workers or tech workers. Relocation expenses are one of the MOST common benefits provided to valued staff. We can assume from your comments that you've never been considered valued staff.

    April 12, 2012 02:27 pm at 2:27 pm |
  10. The Real Truth and Nothing But the The Real Truth

    Cynthia - Employees left over from the Bush years, is more like it
    =====================================================
    They sound pretty experienced at ripping of fthe taxpayers so I suspect they've been there since the Clinton years.

    April 12, 2012 02:29 pm at 2:29 pm |
  11. private sector employee

    This is a non story. Moving expenses including a house sale could end up that much. If you can't find somebody in Hawaii, and for upper management or technical that is not uncommon to spend that amount of money. We had a guy that had horses we paid to move. But, that's part of a relocation. Companies do this all the time. Now, you might never had worked for a company that did this, but professionals get this all the time. Private companies write this off against taxes. I've seen companies bring people in at a no tax state like Texas then move them TDY their entire employment to a high tax state like California and state they are not California residents for company tax purposes. Hawaii is expensive to live in. This does not surprise me, sounds like an employee who does not know how the world works. Consider how much DoD spends to move GIs every 2 years or 4 years instead of keeping them somewhere for 6 to 8 years.

    April 12, 2012 02:34 pm at 2:34 pm |
  12. Al-NY,NY

    Let's see who has done this in the past...I suspect BOTH administrations have had a lot of it occur. And if the GOP wants to whine about exorbident spending, how about hookers and booze at party functions in Vegas? I seem to remember an event when there were huge expenses revealed no too long ago

    April 12, 2012 02:41 pm at 2:41 pm |
  13. Rudy NYC

    Another Day wrote:

    Yer either an idiot or someone with no experience in the world of white collar workers or tech workers. Relocation expenses are one of the MOST common benefits provided to valued staff. We can assume from your comments that you've never been considered valued staff.
    -------------------–
    Aye. If the company doesn't pick it up, you can deduct it off of your taxes. I was on the receiving end of a very generous moving expense. The company hired me, and wanted me to start in 2 weeks. They paid for the expense of moving me over a thousand miles, and set me up in a condo for up to a year until I could find my own place. That's one way how the expenses can ran up so high so quickly.

    April 12, 2012 02:43 pm at 2:43 pm |