Judicial Watch filed a Freedom of Information Act request against the Government Services Agency and has unearthed more waste in the sprawling bureaucracy.
(Washington, DC) – Judicial Watch announced today that it has obtained more than a half-dozen, newly uncovered videos from U.S. General Services Administration (GSA) which show senior GSA officials and staff participating in costumed playacting and parodies. These videos are evidence of GSA’s extravagance, which, along with the scandalous 2010 Las Vegas regional conference, were revealed in a scathing April 2012 inspector general (IG) report. These videos had been available on GSA’s website prior to the release of the IG Report but were removed shortly thereafter.
The videos were obtained by Judicial Watch pursuant to a June 15, 2012, Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request seeking videos produced by GSA’s Northeast Region (known as Region 2) from 2011 through June 2012. Because the agency failed to timely respond to Judicial Watch’s FOIA request, Judicial Watch filed a lawsuit on May 23, 2013 (Judicial Watch v. U.S. General Services Administration (No. 1:13-cv-00755)).
The videos Judicial Watch unearthed include an embarrassing “Rocky” parody, and, um, this pitiful rap video, done to the tune of Sir Mix-A-Lot’s “Baby Got Back.” These government worker are so hip and with it that they’re parodying songs that were novel and funny about 20 years ago.
There are many more videos where that came from:
Jeopardy – GSA officials and employees participate in an elaborate Jeopardy game show parody, complete with theme music, light-up board, and canned audience applause.
· The “Leasefather” – GSA employees parody the baker scene from “The Godfather” movie with supplicant pleading for Don Tony (stroking stuffed cat) to give him justice.
· Mission Impossible – Former GSA official Ashley Cohen portrays Jim Phelps in a Mission Impossible TV show parody with blaring theme, lit matches, and an exploding tape recorder.
· Sherlock Holmes – After an opening with stock footage from Universal Studios, GSA employees costumed as Holmes and Watson conduct a lengthy discussion.
In the same way in which a dentist’s corny jokes about the Jewish people offended Jerry Seinfeld as a comedian, these videos are offensive to anyone who has ever been involved in professional video production. The production quality, writing, and acting are uniformly terrible. They’re horrid, stupid, schlocky, and just bad. But added up, they amount to hundreds if not thousands of wasted man hours and resources, on the American taxpayer’s dime.
Judicial Watch points out that it only found out about the videos’ existence because a whistle blower, Linda Shenwick, spoke out. She worked in the GSA’s Region 2 office, which produced the videos.
In my government career experience, these videos usually result from one of two things. Either the workers don’t have enough to do and get “creative,” or GSA sidelined an incompetent executive rather than fire them, and that sidelined executive was moved over into an office where they couldn’t actively do any harm — typically, somewhere like the agency’s video production division. The sidelined executive then found a way to do even more harm, and these videos are the result of their work.