The Real GSA Scandal: Job-Killing Big Labor Payoffs

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Stop the presses: Big-spending Democrats are finally up in arms over a federal boondoggle. Details of the U.S. General Services Administration bacchanalia get worse by the day. We’ve graduated from overpriced breakfasts in Vegas, friends-and-family junkets galore and in-house videos mocking their own profligacy to extravagant bonuses, alleged kickbacks, obstructionism and bribes.

But the scandal is still small potatoes compared to the potential billions GSA is pouring down the Big Labor drain.

Whistleblowers and an independent inspector general investigation estimate that the GSA’s Sin City conference cost taxpayers an estimated $1 million in 2010. Washington bureaucrats squandered another $234,000 on public relations damage control. An interim GSA director announced Tuesday on Capitol Hill that 35 upcoming conferences would be canceled at a cost savings of less than $1 million. Democratic Rep. Elijah Cummings of Maryland vowed that GSA officials would be “made to pay back” taxpayers.

The arrogance of these civil servants is, of course, jaw-dropping. Regional Commissioner Jeff Neely, the Paris Hilton of GSA party animals, wrote in an invitation to personal friends: “We’ll get you guys a room near us, and we’ll pick up the room tab. … I know I’m bad, but as Deb and I often say, why not enjoy it while we have it and while we can. Ain’t gonna last forever.”

Neely’s gone, along with seven other top administrators, and the GSA travel budget has dried up for now. But this is just a sliver of the permanently enshrined waste that constitutes the bread-and-butter business of the behemoth agency, which runs on a $45 billion annual budget — including $5.5 billion in federal stimulus money to oversee capital building projects.

Thanks to President Obama (whose White House reflexively tried to blame Party in the GSA-gate on the Bush administration), the federal government is steering that money toward Big Labor patrons with a proven track record of cost overruns, construction delays and corruption.

As I’ve reported previously, the linchpin is E.O. 13502, a union-friendly executive order signed by Obama in his first weeks in office. It essentially forces contractors who bid on large-scale public construction projects worth $25 million or more to submit to union representation for its employees. The blunt instrument used to give unions a leg up is the “project labor agreement,” which in theory sets reasonable pre-work terms and conditions. But in practice, it requires contractors to hand over exclusive bargaining control, to pay inflated, above-market wages and benefits, and to fork over dues money and pension funding to corrupt, cash-starved labor organizations.

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  • mlcblog

    Michelle is such a sterling reporter. A view that few have seen, plus well researched and containing pertinent examples. We are fortunate to have her.

  • davarino

    This current bunch in the white house are a joke that cannot even be comparable to the Bush admin. You lefties ought to be coming apart at the seams, but nothing. Your hypocrisy is blatant. All the repubs have to do is start ticking off all the transgressions over and over again and win in November.

    • Asher

      The tax payers are mad as hell about where there money is going, and we aren't going to take it any more! Solyndra, MF Global, GSA scandal, along with Quid Pro Quos to pay for votes that line up with the regimes Policies.

  • Ronald Johnston

    The evil terrorist, illegal alien and homosexual, osama obama, could not win election for dog catcher without buying the election!!!!!

  • jacob

    And in the meantime, what are the parasites we sent to CONGRESS dping about all this ???

    I watched a Congressman stating yesterday he asked GSA questions and they just stonewalled….
    HOLDER was subpoenad and also stonewalled and thumbed his nose to Congress and nothing
    has been done about….
    But if I would stand outside the WHTE HOUSE and curse OBAMA i would be shot on the spot, right ??

    And to think that, according to polls, this "President" has a damned good chance of reelection, confirms
    what EINSTEIN once said that there are two infinite things in life :



    • Asher

      Ted Nugent said it best today, enough to get a visit from the Secret Service…Its time to Roll!

  • Merit Man

    The use of Project Labor Agreements on public works projects has proven to raise costs. Ms. Malkin mentions one great resource for learning about PLAs ( but should also be aware that the latest peer-reviewed study on the matter offers an even more compelling reason to reject union-only, Government Mandated Project Labor Agreements. The National University Institute for Policy Research and The USC Keston Institute found in their 2010 study of over 500 California school construction projects that the cost of using a PLA is between 15% and 18% higher than when the projects are built according to standard Prevailing Wage policies which already demand high wages and full benefits for workers. You can learn all about that study at

  • DrBukk

    My stepson worked at the GSA during GWB. He says there were rows and rows of workers sleeping at their desks and watching their desktop TV's. They can't be fired. On one occasion a woman was sleeping past quitting time and a few people gathered to laugh at her. Turned out she was dead.

  • DrBukk

    And I mean stone cold dead. Nothing unusual about sleeping on desks.

  • reality

    Without Obama and Democrates support, GSA officials definitely will not be able to do things like those. It's corruption from top to bottom under Obama.