What’s The More Important Scandal: GSA Or Secret Service?

22Apr12

I’ve really been trying to figure out which “scandal” is more important: the GSA spending one or the Secret Service-Colombian prostitution one?

From a short term standpoint, both are pretty bad. Both government organizations showed reckless behavior. The GSA spend hundreds of thousands of taxpayer dollars on a conference/party. The Secret Service hired prostitutes while on the job.

Certainly from a national security standpoint the Secret Service incident seems worse. Outside of causing an international incident with police involved over around 50 bucks,  the agents may have had President Obama’s schedule in their rooms, if the NBC report is to be believed. The U.S., by the way, has denied that report. New York Congressman Peter King put it best by saying the U.S. “lucked out” and that things “could have been disastrous.” Six agents have been fired with more possible. I don’t think their bosses should be let go, but I wouldn’t be surprised if some of the top agents resigned too.

I’m not sure this is normal behavior for Secret Service agents. This is obviously speculation, but I think most Secret Service agents work hard, are diligent in their duties and want to make sure Obama, or any president, is safe.

However, USA TODAY and Fox columnist Kirsten Powers thinks otherwise:

Representatives of the U.S. government should be setting the standard for the world, not feeding the problem of sex trafficking. The chances that the women or girls the Secret Service agents procured for their pleasure were there by free will is very low. Most likely, they were sex slaves…We have a global epidemic of sex trafficking, and President Obama and members of Congress should take this opportunity to express the outrage that should be the natural reaction to slavery.

Global sex trafficking is definitely a major problem and something which needs to be addressed. Powers is pretty plugged in but I really hope this isn’t normal activity for our servicemen/government agents. I support calls by Republicans for resignations but don’t think they should be en masse. Hearings and a thorough investigation should be done to get to the bottom of this.

But I really think the GSA spending scandal is more important. This is a clear example of government waste, even if it’s ‘only’ $820,000. What’s extremely ironic is that the GSA was created in 1949 to help reduce government waste, thanks to the Hoover Commission. It’s supposed to help federal agencies in their buying of office furniture and vehicles.

The GSA’s 2012 budget request was $617 million, up almost 50-percent from 2011. Most of it was for refurbishing at various government buildings and port of entries across the country and I admit to know knowing how they determine the dollar amount on the refurbishing. The GSA says most of that money is for modernization projects which, if true, make sense because that stuff can be expensive. But why have it cost that much instead of doing the modernization in stages. The most important buildings first, then the rest. That seems more efficient.

The GSA also asked for $16.9 million dollars for a federal workforce training program.  According to testimony in the Senate in 2010, it sounds like the money is for a massive recruiting push. That just frustrates me because it shows how large the federal government is growing which I don’t like. If you look at the entire testimony, the GSA was coordinating with Homeland Security, the Office of Management and Budget and the Chief Acquisition Officers Council for this program.

The OMB’s mission (according to Wikipedia) is this:

Assist the President in overseeing the preparation of the federal budget and to supervise its administration in Executive Branch agencies. In helping to formulate the President’s spending plans, the OMB evaluates the effectiveness of agency programs, policies, and procedures, assesses competing funding demands among agencies, and sets funding priorities. The OMB ensures that agency reports, rules, testimony, and proposed legislation are consistent with the President’s Budget and with Administration policies.

In addition, the OMB oversees and coordinates the Administration’s procurement, financial management, information, and regulatory policies. In each of these areas, the OMB’s role is to help improve administrative management, to develop better performance measures and coordinating mechanisms, and to reduce any unnecessary burdens on the public.

The CAOC mission:

The Council consists of a diverse group of acquisition professionals in the Executive Branch established to provide a senior level forum for monitoring and improving the federal acquisition system. The Council promotes effective business practices that ensure the timely delivery of best value products and services to the agencies, achieve public policy objectives, and further integrity, fairness, competition, and openness in the federal acquisition system. The Council works closely with the Administrator, Office of Federal Procurement Policy, and the Federal Acquisition Regulatory Council to promote these business practices in the acquisition system.

Homeland Security is supposed to help keep the U.S. safe.

I have to be honest, I can’t figure out why these agencies exist. Is it really that hard for every single government agency to do their budget and give it to the Treasury Department?

This is why I think the GSA scandal is more important. It shows just how large and cumbersome our federal government has become.

Both Congress and the president need to take a hard look at what money is going where and decide to cut agencies which are redundant. If corporate America can do it, why can’t the government? It would sure get our debt more under control than it already is.

From a morality standpoint, what happened in Colombia is horrible. But from a government waste standpoint, the GSA scandal shows just how bad our spending is.



One Response to “What’s The More Important Scandal: GSA Or Secret Service?”

  1. Both. I think any time people of power step out of line they need to be exposed. they are after all decision makers making decisions that affect us.


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