By Richard Billies of WasteFraudAndAbuse.org
Right now, most of the new allegations involve Jeffrey Neely, the regional commissioner with the agency in California. It is alleged that Neely spent tens of thousands of dollars for personal items, travel and accommodations without any regard to government rules.
It has also been alleged that GSA officials were notified of the abuses in May 2011 by Inspector General Brian Miller and ignored his warnings. Furthermore, Miller alerted a White House lawyer about an investigation of “fraud and wasteful spending” at GSA.
Despite Miller’s warnings, nothing was done. In fact, Neely was given a $9,000 performance bonus even while he was under investigation.
During questioning by Rep. Joe Walsh (R-IL), Martha Johnson, the former head of the General Services Administration, said, “I gave that $9,000 bonus because I was focused on performance and because the recommendation came from the building’s commissioner, who was the direct budget and supervisor of Mr. Neely.”
The list of Neely’s abuses is lengthy and it appears that he will be the subject of a Department of Justice investigation. GSA Inspector General Brian Miller has referred details of the case involving former Public Buildings Service executive Jeffrey Neely to the Justice Department, according to a congressional source with knowledge of the investigation.
A number of allegations of Neely’s corruption have emerged from the various Congressional hearings. It appears that he regularly was accompanied by his wife on official trips.
In February 2012, accompanied by his wife, Deborah Neely, he traveled to Hawaii, Guam and the Northern Mariana Islands during a 17-day sojourn. In March 2012, he attended a four-day meeting in Napa Valley, Calif., where food and other non-travel-related expenses tallied more than $40,000, according to testimony.
It also appears that his region ran an employee rewards program that gave away more than $340,000 in gifts in 2009 and 2010, the bulk of Neely’s tenure as acting commissioner. The rewards program itself violated agency rules. There were additional violations of Federal rules within the rewards program.
And the Neely’s were not bashful about their abuses. An email described as to Neely from his wife, Deb, in preparation for the 17-day February trip, read: “It’s yo birfday. … We gonna pawty like iz yo birfday!” It was not immediately apparent if Neely reimbursed the government for his wife’s expenses, as required by law.
On another occasion, the Neely’s children appear to have accompanied their parents on a Hawaii inspection trip. Photos on his daughter’s Facebook page of trips to Hawaii coincide with official business-trip dates. “The number one BEST part of the vacation, AMAZING, Snorkeling at Black Rock in Maui,” the post by his daughter reads.
“Mr. Neely and his wife believe they were some sort of agency royalty who used taxpayer funds to bankroll their lavish lifestyle,” Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-MD) said earlier this week.
“When investigators asked another witness whether the 2010 conference was an outlier, he said it was pretty consistent with previous conferences, and that although Mr. Neely wanted to do better than they did in New Orleans in 2008, there was not much difference,” Cummings said.
“In one email, Mr. Neely invited personal friends to the conference, writing, and I quote — and this is an incredible quote, ‘we’ll get you guys a room near us and we’ll pick up the room tab. Could be a blast,’” Cummings said.
During the Senate hearing , Senator John Barrasso (R-WY) suggested that perhaps the General Services Administration should be abolished and asked if GSA’s role would be better handled by the private sector.
Acting GSA Administrator Dan Tangherlini said at the hearing Wednesday that the agency is needed now more than ever to help the government save money.
Meanwhile, Jeffrey Neely continues to be paid by the American taxpayers since he was only placed on administrative leave.
Richard Billies is founder and purveyor of AllThingsPoliticalToday.com and a frequent SNSPost contributor. The opinions expressed in this article are those of Mr. Billies and not necessarily those of the SNSPost or its staff