Washington Post: Veterans Affairs agency under investigation for conference spending

Today the Washington Post reported on a brewing scandal at the VA. The agency is now under investigation for whether employees are illegally taking freebies while on tax payer business. We’ll be following this one closely:

[box_light]The Department of Veterans Affairs spent $5 million—and set aside $4 million more — last year for two training conferences whose organizers are under investigation for breaking ethics rules by improperly accepting gifts, congressional committees and government sources said Monday.

The agency’s inspector general is investigating whether event planners and other organizers of the conference for human resources employees improperly accepted alcohol, concert tickets and spa treatments. Investigators also are looking into tens of thousands of dollars spent on promotional items for conference attendees, government sources said.

A total of about 1800 VA employees attended the four-day events, held in July and August 2011 at the Marriott World Center in Orlando, officials said.

The investigation comes four months after the General Services Administration was engulfed in scandal over a Las Vegas conference for the agency’s West Coast employees that cost $823,000. That four-day event, revealed by the GSA inspector general, was billed as a training exercise but was little more than an entertainment junket. The agency’s top leaders were fired or forced out as a result.[/box_light]

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