The House Appropriations Committee voted last Wednesday (June 20, 2012) to cut about $100 million from the scandal-plagued GSA’s budget for next year. The legislation—as well as an amendment that denies bonuses to GSA officials under investigation for misconduct—was approved by the full committee with a voice vote. The approved FY 2013 Financial Services and General Government Appropriations bill provides annual funding for a number of agencies, including the Executive Office of the President, the District of Columbia, the Federal Trade Commission, the Judiciary, the Securities and Exchange Commission, the Small Business Administration, and the Treasury Department—as well as GSA. (See pages 65–80 for GSA budget details.) The bill includes a total of $21.15 billion in funding for all of the agencies, which is $376 million below last year’s level and $2 billion below the president’s request. The bill is $3 billion, or nearly 13%, below FY 2010—the last year the Democrats controlled Congress.
Committee members clearly were still focused on the outrage surrounding the 2010 GSA Western Regions conference outside Las Vegas, which resulted in the firings and resignations of several high-ranking GSA officials. “This bill directs funding where it will do our citizens the most good, and aims to eliminate gross mismanagement of public funds, like the GSA boondoggle in Las Vegas,” Committee Chairman Hal Rogers (R-Ky.) told Fox News. With the Vegas conference squarely in mind, the bill specifically provides that “None of the funds made available in this Act shall be used by the General Services Administration for a conference in which the Administrator has not certified that the costs of the conference are appropriate and comply with all travel and conference laws and regulations.”
While the bill gives GSA an aggregate total budget of $7.9 billion, it divides GSA administrative money into separate accounts, requires the agency to submit quarterly financial reports to Congress, and requires the GSA administrator to approve future conference spending. Interestingly, the bill also provides the Office of the Inspector General with a $10 million budget increase – an increase which was not requested in the president’s budget request. This, clearly, is Congress providing GSA’s OIG with a big pat on the back for its work in uncovering wasteful spending at the now-infamous GSA Vegas conference.