One of the planners of the 2010 General Services Administration's regional conference in Las Vegas said he wanted an event that would be "over the top."
We've learned over the last two weeks that the four-day Western Regions conference by the Public Buildings Services division was marked by excesses that we, the taxpayers, paid for.
The conference cost us $823,000. That's pennies when put in context of the federal budget, but it's the waste, fraud and abuse that is infuriating.
* Conference planners spent $130,000 on two "scouting trips" to Vegas and five off-site planning meetings where government employees wined and dined themselves.
* The GSA spent nearly $150,000 on catering for the conference, including $5,500 for three semi-private, in-room parties and $31,000 - or $95 per person - on a closing reception.
* In one team-building exercise, attendees put together 24 bicycles at a cost of $75,000.
* Thousands were spent on commemorative coins, and a mind reader was paid $3,200 to provide entertainment.
* When the projected room costs went over budget, GSA shifted costs to the food and beverage side.
* Emails show that GSA official Jeff Neely organized a private party during the conference and had his wife, who does not work for GSA, invite personal friends, on the taxpayer's dime.
Wrote Neely, "I know. I'm bad. But as Deb (his wife) and I often say, why not enjoy it while we have it and while we can. Ain't going to last forever."
We can only hope not.