OTR Interviews

GSA party scandal: Just the tip of the iceberg of culture of excess in Obama administration?

Former GSA head: Obama administration faulting George W. Bush for scandal is no surprise


This is a rush transcript from "On the Record," April 9, 2012. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, FOX NEWS HOST: Well, it's appalling enough that the Obama administration wasted more than $800,000 on a lavish government party in Vegas, but tonight they are saying they are not responsible, the White House instead now pointing the finger at the Bush administration, saying this never would have happened if the Bush administration hadn't let the GSA party budget get out of control.

But Lurita Doan, the former GSA administrator under President Bush, says, Don't point at us. She joins us. Nice to see you.


VAN SUSTEREN: OK, let me look at the numbers. 2010, $840,000 and some change -- do you have any doubt that this number $840,000 and some change is correct and reflects what was spent on the party?

DOAN: I think that's accurate because that's comes directly from the report that was just published by the inspector general of the GSA. So that's very likely to be accurate.

VAN SUSTEREN: All right, now the three previous numbers I have for 2008, 2006 and 2004 -- 2008 is about $655,000, 2006 is $323,000, 2004 is $93,000.

Now, under -- when you were director was the 2006, $323,000. Do you have any information -- these numbers are supplied by the White House. Do you have any indication that these numbers are correct?

DOAN: No, I don't, and I'd be a little bit wary of them because what I have often seen with the Obama White House is that they pick and choose which numbers that they will represent. And some of those numbers look fairly large, but they also could represent a federal, state and local gathering of officials.

And most of the GSA conferences often have as many as 10,000 folks, whereas the event that was in Las Vegas only had 300. But I will say, I believe -- I know for a fact that as much as he might like to want to try to blame President Bush, during my time as the administrator of GSA, I can guarantee you that I never once approved the excess kinds of spending, the waivers that must have been put in place in order to allow them to have those kinds of per diems or the kind of special perks that appear to have been occurring in that $823,000 extravaganza in Las Vegas because that requires circumventing the law. And that's just not right.

VAN SUSTEREN: All right, so if we -- if -- in order to understand the other numbers and to make a fair analysis, we'd have to see what composed the 2004, 2006, 2008 to see if it compared to the -- of course, the largest one of 2010.

DOAN: Yes. I think they have to show some transparency on that and explain exactly where those numbers came from.

VAN SUSTEREN: So that sounds (INAUDIBLE). All right, now, why didn't the inspector general -- this 2010, $840,000 -- this one seems at least to me like a no-brainer for a party in Vegas. Why didn't the inspector general of the GSA, or the then existing director, know this before it happened so it could have stopped it? Or maybe he or she -- if he did, the inspector general, and she, the director, did.

DOAN: This is very curious because it's hard to believe that they didn't -- that someone in a senior leadership position didn't know that it was happening because there are many checks and internal controls along the way at GSA.

When you have a conference of this size, you're putting out public bids. In fact, if you go to Fedbid.ops, which is where the bids are, you'll see there's a bid out there for this conference. So there are proposals that have to be submitted.

There's a budget that has to be established. It has to be signed off on by a series of leaders within GSA in a lot of different areas. When you exceed that, if one were to have exceeded that, you'd have to get some kind of waiver and explanation, right, a justification.

VAN SUSTEREN: Who -- who -- who signs the waivers? Is it the inspector general or is it the director of the GSA? Who would...


DOAN: It'd be anyone from the regional director all the way up to the administrator. And that's why it's very odd. Furthermore, if you are having an investigation by the inspector general, the inspector general does the administrator the courtesy of coming to his or her office, explaining what the nature of the investigation is, as much as is within their power. And then they proceed with the investigation. So at the onset, before it begins, the administrator is informed.

VAN SUSTEREN: So does that mean -- I mean, OK, the report -- the inspector general's just come out with a report, 11 -- it says 11 months after the incident, the report came out from the inspector general. Did the White House or the GSA or anyone else know 11 months ago, or did they not learn until after the report came out?

DOAN: It'd be hard for them to learn after the report came out. I would just say...

VAN SUSTEREN: So they learned when an investigation started?

DOAN: Yes because they have to submit the materials for the inspector general to review. For example, there'll be expense reports, there'll be per diems, there'll be bids and proposals that have to be reviewed. There'll be the hotel records. There's all sorts of documents that can only be obtained from the agency itself.

VAN SUSTEREN: How much of a mess is this, I mean, in government, spending and waste?

DOAN: This is my concern. Greta, I can't tell you how much this bothers me because what you worry about is you see at least -- it seems to me that within the Obama administration, it really does seem to be a culture of excess. And when you see this kind of excess happening at one agency, what you have to wonder is, is this happening in other places?

Is this happening elsewhere within the administration because these are taxpayer dollars, and it shows an absolute disregard for the value and the importance and the need for stewardship of those taxpayer dollars. And it is a crime. It is an absolute shame.

VAN SUSTEREN: Well, it's -- it's stunning. Anyway, Lurita, thank you.

DOAN: Thanks so much, Greta.