Five U.S. General Services Administration officials spent about a week in Hawaii at government expense, a trip supposedly centered on attending a brief opening ceremony for a new federal office, a lawmaker said.
An agency employee told investigators that the five officials traveled to Hawaii in 2011 for "a one-hour ribbon-cutting ceremony" to open an office leased for the FBI, according to an interview excerpt released by Rep. John L. Mica. The Florida Republican is chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee.
GSA Administrator Martha N. Johnson quit April 2 after the agency's inspector general reported that the GSA spent $823,000 on a party for employees at a Las Vegas-area resort.
The trip to Hawaii "was just one of those trips" where the group "left on a Saturday and returned on a Friday" to attend "a one-hour ribbon-cutting ceremony on a lease space," the unidentified employee said, according to the released excerpt. The trip lasted a week "give or take a day," the employee said.
"They were, I'm sure, working hard the whole time," the unidentified investigator said.
"I doubt it," the employee replied, according to the excerpt of the August 2011 interview.
In another interview, the Associated Press reported that the GSA inspector general was told that the agency spent as much as $330,000 to move an employee from Denver to Hawaii, an example of millions of dollars wasted in relocation costs.
A GSA employee said that perks for those transferring included house hunting, temporary quarters that at times was extended to 90 days, groceries, laundry, shipping a vehicle and household goods, paying the closing costs on a new home and buying the former house if the employee can't sell it.
"I mean it's outrageous," the employee said in the interview.
Mica said he will hold a hearing Tuesday on the trips, saying in a statement that "the Las Vegas conference was the tip of the iceberg, and every new example demonstrates the mind- boggling culture of waste and blatant disregard for the taxpayers' money within GSA."
House Government Reform and Oversight Committee Chairman Darrell E. Issa, R-Calif., plans to hold a hearing on the GSA issue Monday. The committee has invited Johnson, GSA Inspector General Brian D. Miller and three other senior agency officials to testify.
A spokesman for the agency, Adam Elkington, had no immediate comment.