WAMU 88.5 : Morning Edition

Analysis: Fallout From GSA's 'Out-Of-Control' Vegas Conference

Play associated audio

Tom Shoop, GovExec editor-in-chief

The General Services Administration -- which manages the federal government's property and many contracts -- is under new leadership this morning. 

As first reported by the Washington Post, GSA chief Martha Johnson resigned yesterday after an investigation concluded her agency improperly paid for an $820,000 conference. It featured a mind reader, bicycle giveaways and after-hour receptions in resort suites. Two of Johnson's deputies were fired and four additional employees have been put on administrative leave.

Tom Shoop, editor-in-chief of Government Executive, talks with WAMU 88.5 Morning Edition host Matt Bush about the fallout from the scandal. Here are some highlights: 

Why this conference was so 'over the top': "That phrase, 'over the top,' actually came in an email from one of the organizers of the conference saying they wanted specifically to organize it as over the top and bigger than any of their previous conferences," Shoop says. "They really went out of their way to be sort of excessive in this."

How the revelation will effect GSA and other government employees: "I think employees across government can expect even tighter scrutiny of conference spending of every kind," Shoop says. "I do think it's important to note that many employees at GSA don't even work for the Public Buildings Service and have nothing to do with this kind of thing, but I think all of them can expect a higher level of scrutiny."

On how the report will affect the Obama Administration: "I think it will be fairly damaging, and it's not the first time that it happened," he says. "Last fall, in the wake of a report that the Justice Department had some alleged overspending on its conferences, the administration cracked down. Now, this conference took place before that, but still, it's yet another story of the kind of waste that really resonates with people." 

Why D.C. government veteran Dan Tangherlini was tapped to take over: "He's known as a very effective longstanding public servant who not only worked in the D.C. government but had experience in the transportation department, and before that served in the Office of Management and Budget during the Clinton administration," Shoop says. "I think they view him as someone who's a very steady hand, as a smart manager who keeps on top of things, so … they have trust and confidence that he'll right the ship."


Christopher Marlowe Credited As Shakespeare's Co-Author On Henry VI Plays

True authorship of Shakespeare has been debated for centuries. Now, the New Oxford Shakespeare edition will list Elizabethan playwright Christopher Marlowe as co-author on the three Henry VI plays, part one, two and three. NPR's Robert Siegel talks with Florida State University professor Gary Taylor, one of the general editors of the new volume.

2,500 Years Ago, This Brew Was Buried With The Dead; A Brewery Has Revived It

In an ancient burial plot in what is now Germany, scientists uncovered a cauldron with remnants of an alcoholic beverage. They teamed up with a Milwaukee brewery to re-create the recipe.

Trump, Down In The Polls, Tells Supporters To Ignore 'Phony Polls'

While campaigning in Florida on Monday, the Republican presidential candidate accused the media of counting too many Democrats in their polls. Let's take a look at the numbers.

Buick Up, Honda and Subaru Down, Says Consumer Reports

Consumer Reports has released its Annual Reliability Survey. Lexus and Toyota are the top two followed by Buick. The company ranks car brands based on a survey of more than a half-million car owners.

Leave a Comment

Help keep the conversation civil. Please refer to our Terms of Use and Code of Conduct before posting your comments.