General Spending Administration

GSA employees paid lavish salaries, generous bonuses, excessive overtime, congressional analysis reveals

Rep. Mica / AP
August 6, 2012

Rep. John Mica (R., Fla.), Chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, revealed last week that the General Services Administration (GSA), the government agency at the center of a luxury spending scandal, had awarded $44 million in taxpayer-funded bonuses last year, far more than previously reported.

Though GSA staff constitute just one percent of the federal workforce, agency bonuses made up 10 percent of government bonuses paid out in 2011.

Mica’s analysis of GSA compensation data found a number of bonuses worth as much as $50,000 or more. One employee received an $80,000 bonus, in addition to $180,000 in salary and other compensation.

The congressman also found widespread abuse of overtime pay, and cited one case where a GSA electrician receiving an $84,000 salary also earned $115,000 in overtime as well as a $4,600 bonus.

"There's something wrong at GSA when you have to pay an employee $115,000 in overtime," Mica said.

A Washington Free Beacon review of GSA payroll records for 2011, compiled by WUSA9 News, found numerous examples of GSA employees receiving unusually high salaries, in many cases inflated by large amounts of overtime pay.

Records show that two air conditioning equipment mechanics earned total pay of $130,000 and $201,000, respectively.

The former took home base pay of $68,000, supplemented a $3,000 bonus and $49,000 worth of overtime.

The latter earned base pay of $71,000, along with a $3,100 bonus and a whopping $112,000 in overtime.

One custodial worker in Washington, D.C., earned a total pay of $125,000, including a $5,600 bonus and $40,000 worth of overtime.

A "customer service director" at the Federal Acquisition Service made $257,000 last year, including more than $63,000 in overtime pay and a $7,100 bonus.

Environment-oriented workers were paid especially well. One "environmental specialist" at the Federal Acquisition Service received a $3,500 bonus on top a of $117,000 salary.

Another "greening officer" at the Public Buildings Service (PBS) earned a $150,000 base salary and a $7,500 bonus.

One "gardener inspector" earned $90,000 in total pay, including more than $15,000 in overtime and a 2,500 bonus.

The PBS also paid three painters about $80,000 each, which included bonuses averaging roughly $2,700 and overtime pay ranging from $12,000 to $16,000.

One plumber at the PBS made nearly the full equivalent of his base salary ($51,000) in overtime pay ($45,000), for total pay in excess of $100,000.

The same was true of an electrician employed by the PBS, who earned a base salary of $93,000 and received $87,000 worth of overtime pay, as well as a $3,400 bonus.

Meanwhile, the "cash control officer" in the GSA office of the chief financial officer earned just $41,000 total pay, including $432 worth of overtime and no bonus.

GSA Administrator Martha Johnson resigned in April, just days before the GSA Office of the Inspector General (OIG) released a damning report on the agency’s profligate spending habits. Johnson’s top deputy and the head of the PBS were fired.

The OIG report focused on a lavish GSA training conference held at a luxury hotel outside Las Vegas in October 2010. Just 300 employees attended the event, which cost more than $800,000. Expenses included $3,200 for a mind reader and more than $6,000 for a "commemorative coin set displayed in velvet boxes."

Internal GSA emails released by the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform indicated the Obama administration knew about the lavish conference, but reacted by giving a mere "slap on the wrist" to the official responsible.

ABC News uncovered photos of the GSA official in question, Jeff Neely, enjoying wine in a hot tub at the luxurious M Hotel near Las Vegas. According to the IG report, Neely organized eight planning trips ahead of the conference that cost a total of $130,000.