The PJ Tatler

VA Conference Reportedly Eclipses GSA in Wasteful Spending

House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) wants answers on a government conference even more expensive than the infamous 2010 GSA party in Las Vegas.

In July and August 2011, the Veterans Affairs Office of Human Resources held weeklong conferences at the Marriott World Center in Orlando with a $5 million price tag. This included $52,000 to film an 18-minute video spoof, complete with a professional actor, of the opening sequence of Patton.

An additional $84,000 was spent on promotional freebies such as pens, highlighters, hand sanitizers, and USB drives. Some of the VA conference planners, Issa noted in a letter to Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki, may also have received improper gifts — including show tickets, limos and helicopter rides — from hotels they were scouting out to be the conference location.

“It was the hope of the Members of the Committee that the GSA conference was an outlier by any metric designed to quantify the waste and abuse that occurred there,” Issa wrote, noting that documents he requested from the VA had not arrived by their promised May timetable.

Issa also requested more details about the Orlando conferences, including a copy of the Patton video, by Aug. 27.

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