New video from GSA conference emerges as lawmakers scrutinize spending

Published April 09, 2012

| FoxNews.com

Another video of federal employees laughing it up on the taxpayers' dime surfaced Monday -- this one showing an official for the General Services Administration joking at their 2010 conference about making a mock music video at work. 

The music videos from that conference have more or less gone viral by this point. The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee has been releasing them, as it launches an investigation into GSA spending following an inspector general's report that chastised the agency for spending more than $820,000 at the Vegas-area conference. 

The committee announced late Monday that it has scheduled a hearing for April 16, where Martha Johnson -- until recently the head of GSA -- has been invited to testify, along with the inspector general. 

The latest video clip put out by the panel showed employees singing about "going green" at GSA. They sang to a gospel soundtrack, holding up portraits of administration officials including President Obama during the course of the song. 

At the October conference in Nevada, the representative from "Region 7" was then given an award for the performance. 

In the presentation, GSA official Jeff Neely asked the recipient, "was there anybody in Region 7 who wasn't in that thing?" 

"If they didn't work on Friday, then chances are they weren't in the video," she said, as the crowd laughed. 

The office of oversight committee Chairman Darrell Issa, R-Calif., in a statement, accused the audience of laughing over an "admission" that the video was "made during taxpayers' time." 

The committee said that segment was edited out of an earlier version of released footage. The footage first started to trickle out last week. One scene showed employees joking at the conference about a party held in the commissioner's suite. 

The Obama administration, meanwhile, has not attempted to defend the 2010 conference. Top Obama officials have condemned the expenses and pledged to implement protections to clamp down on wasteful spending. 

The inspector general's report led to the resignation of GSA's most recent administrator last week, as well as the firing of two top officials within the agency. 

The administration, though, has pointed to rising costs under the George W. Bush administration to suggest that the $820,000 Vegas conference could have been avoided -- if the Bush-era GSA had acted. 

According to figures obtained by Fox News, the budget for the so-called Western Regions Conference rose from $93,000 in 2004 to $323,855 in 2006. It then jumped to $655,025 in 2008. 

But Lurita Doan, who headed the agency under Bush until her resignation in 2008, told Fox News that President Obama's team is trying to "divert attention" from its own scandal. 

"Blaming anyone else for their own errors is an Obama administration stock and trade," Doan said Monday. "They love to blame George Bush for all of their problems. The fact of the matter is that there can be no comparison whatsoever. And when you look at it, it's one of these situations where there's simply no way that you can excuse the kinds of excesses that went on." 

Doan was embroiled in her own set of controversies during her tenure in the Bush administration. 

She was accused of trying to hook up a friend with a contract as well as dabbling in politics, potentially in violation of federal rules. Doan, who eventually resigned, claims she was the victim of Democratic lawmakers eager to target Bush administration officials. 

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http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2012/04/09/former-gsa-head-rejects-push-to-blame-bush-administration-over-vegas-conference/