U.S. Agency Employees Spent Week in Hawaii, Lawmaker Says

April 12 (Bloomberg) -- Five U.S. General Services Administration officials spent about a week in Hawaii at government expense as part of attending a brief ceremony for a new federal office, a lawmaker said.

An agency employee told investigators the five officials traveled to Hawaii in 2011 for “a one-hour ribbon cutting ceremony” to open an office leased for the Federal Bureau of Investigation, according to an interview excerpt released by Representative John Mica. The Florida Republican is chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee.

Agency Administrator Martha Johnson quit April 2 after the GSA’s inspector general reported that it spent $823,000 on a party for employees at a Las Vegas-area resort. The agency manages federally owned and leased property used by other government departments.

The trip to Hawaii “was just one of those trips” where the group “left on a Saturday and returned on a Friday” to attend “a one-hour ribbon-cutting ceremony on a lease space,” the unidentified employee said, according to the released excerpt. The trip lasted a week “give or take a day,” the employee said.

“They were I’m sure working hard the whole time,” the unidentified investigator said.

“I doubt it,” the employee replied, according to the excerpt of the August 2011 interview. The employee spoke of hearing “stories” of officials “going snorkeling in the morning.”

Hawaii Trip Plans

The employee said a group of officials were planning another trip of about 10 days to Hawaii in October 2011 to attend the opening of a new federal building in Hilo.

Mica said he will hold an April 17 hearing on the trips, saying in a statement that “the Las Vegas conference was the tip of the iceberg, and every new example demonstrates the mind-boggling culture of waste and blatant disregard for the taxpayers’ money within GSA.”

House Government Reform and Oversight Committee Chairman Darrell Issa, a California Republican, plans to hold a hearing on the GSA issue on April 16. The committee has invited Johnson, GSA Inspector General Brian D. Miller and three other senior agency officials to testify.

A spokesman for the agency, Adam Elkington, had no immediate comment.

To contact the reporter on this story: James Rowley in Washington at jarowley@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Jodi Schneider at jschneider50@bloomberg.net