(Reuters) - Disclosure of another lavish party thrown by the U.S. government's buildings and procurement agency prompted fresh attacks on Thursday from Republican lawmakers on wasteful Washington spending under President Barack Obama.
The General Services Administration (GSA) spent at least $268,732 on a one-day performance awards ceremony in November 2010 -- including $20,578 on wooden drumsticks -- the agency's inspector general revealed to Congress as part of an investigation.
The Washington, D.C.-area event came a month after the GSA's western region held a lavish, $820,000 training conference in Las Vegas that prompted the ouster of the agency's chief earlier this year and a management shake-up.
"Every time we turn around, there's another scandal involving GSA," said Representative John Mica, the Republican chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, which has jurisdiction over the agency.
"GSA has a history of subverting the will of the president on salary freezes and Congress on real estate decisions. This out-of-control agency is not above the law, and the transportation committee will continue its work to investigate and reform this arrogant and wasteful agency," Mica added.
A partial accounting of expenses from GSA inspector general Brian Miller revealed that the agency paid a public relations firm $140,464 to manage the November 2010 gathering. That sum included $20,578 for 4,000 drumsticks given to attendees as part of a "drum band exercise."
Miller also notified lawmakers of $28,364 spent on 4,000 picture frames that displayed the time and temperature and were distributed at the conference. Another $7,697 was spent on a "commissioner's reception" for 200 attendees who were serenaded by a violinist and a guitarist as they consumed beverages, hors d'oeuvres and pastries.
The agency, which manages government buildings and procures everything from printing supplies to washroom soap, showed that 49 attendees racked up $48,735 in travel expenses.