As the beat goes on, more indications of the abject waste adn arrogance that permeates this administration top to bottom
Probe slams VA over $6M conference tab
An Obama administration appointee has resigned in connection with another bombshell report detailing the waste of taxpayer money at feel-good conferences -- this time, at a pair of Veterans Affairs summits in Orlando that cost more than $6 million.
John Sepulveda, who as assistant secretary for human resources and administration was the agency's top HR official, resigned just as the VA Office of Inspector General released its 150-page report on the conferences, held on his watch in July and August 2011.
The report said he "abdicated his responsibilities" in overseeing the conferences, leading to "numerous examples of excessive costs, and unnecessary and unsupported expenditures."
The resignation follows that of General Services Administration chief Martha Johnson, who stepped down following a report on a 2010 Vegas conference for GSA that cost taxpayers more than $800,000.
The Veterans Affairs conferences were far costlier, with the planning described as "dysfunctional" by the IG report.
And the IG report included allegations that Sepulveda made a false statement to investigators, and that other VA employees broke federal law and conduct policies by accepting improper gifts from hotels during the selection process.
The conferences for the department's human resources employees included a litany of expenses covering everything from whimsical videos to karaoke to hors d'oeuvres, including artisan cheese displays.
One of those expenses, a video parody of the movie "Patton" in which an actor pep-talked the audience about HR "mission imperatives" in the style of the original movie's opening scene, had already drawn lawmakers' attention earlier this year when the nearly $50,000 expense first surfaced.
The IG report, though, documented another $16,500 video expense for a so-called "Happy Face Video." This was a daily video recap of the prior day's conference events, which according to the report was "improperly authorized."
The report specifically flagged $762,000 in "unauthorized, unnecessary, and/or wasteful expenses" -- which included the "Patton" video, as well as $43,000 in awards paid to staffers "for their roles in the management of these conferences."
The IG's office tallied $6.1 million in total costs, though acknowledged the full price tag could be even higher.
Rep. Jeff Miller, R-Fla., chairman of the House Committee on Veterans' Affairs, decried what he called a "lack of leadership" and called for accountability.