WASHINGTON, DC--- Another elaborate General Services Administration (GSA) conference came to light on Thursday.
House Transportation and Infrastructure Chairman John Mica (R-FL) told reporters $268,732 was spent for the one-day event.
Nearly 200 people attended the November 17, 2010 employee reward and motivation conference at a Marriott hotel in Crystal City.
Rep. Mica released a letter from the agency's inspector general outlining the costs for the event. Inspector Brian D. Miller says he is looking into the event, which was disclosed to him by acting GSA administrator Dan Tangherlini.
The travel costs for the employees were more than $40,000.
There was a Commissioner reception for attendees at nearly $8,000 which included hors d'oeuvres and music from a violinist and guitarist.
Gifts from the GSA to employees included picture frames that told the time and temperature and shadow boxes that rounded out to about $36,000.
The attendees were also given drumsticks for a "drum band exercise." 4,000 of the sticks, says Rep. Mica, were given out. Costing taxpayers almost $21,000.
The quarter of a million dollar conference was discovered by Inspector General (IG). The IG started an investigation of GSA spending after a 2010 convention in Las Vegas that cost the government almost $1-million. The Las Vegas conference included mind readers and clowns.
"Instead of clowns and mind readers, we've got violinists and guitarists. GSA has really classed up their act," Rep. Denham said. "We've known that there is a culture of waste, fraud and abuse within the many layers of GSA, and this proves that this is a systemic problem that is rooted deeply within this organization."
Representative Jeff Denham (R-CA) told reporters at the news conference, "Tax payers cannot afford it and they're not going to stand for it any longer."
The House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee has launched its own investigation and expects to hold a hearing in two weeks.
In a statement, the GSA said, "Today, under the new GSA leadership, this event and type of spending is not tolerated. As of April 15th, 2012 all spending for events, including training conferences, leadership events, team building exercises, award ceremonies, were suspended."