Education and Transportation: We Have No Idea How Much Money We Spend on Conferences

Katie Pavlich

3/5/2013 1:51:00 PM - Katie Pavlich

We've been hearing for days now about the major damage $85 billion in sequester cuts will do to the country however, during an Oversight and Government Reform hearing on Capitol Hill Tuesday, representatives from the Education and Transportation Departments were clueless as to how much money has been spent on department conferences.

Republican Rep. Jim Jordan asked Education Department Deputy Secretary Anthony Miller and Transportation Department Deputy Secretary John Porcari how much money has been spent on travel, conferences and consultants. Jordan was told the departments do not think additional savings can be found when it comes to conference spending and travel for government employees. Jordan's line of questioning included the now infamous 2010 GSA conference in Las Vegas which cost taxpayers $840,000.

Last week, the Oversight Committee reviewed report data showing federal agencies held more than 894 lavish conferences last year, costing more than $100,000 each and totaling $340 million for taxpayers.

Further, a Committee report released today revealed waste-cleanup recommendations from non-partisan Inspector Generals working across the federal government, which would save taxpayers $67 billion per year, have not been implemented. Backlogs of unimplemented recommendations have grown to 16,906.

“This report chronicles $67 billion in unimplemented reforms that non-partisan Inspectors General have identified,” said Committee Chairman Darrell Issa. “President Obama should listen to the recommendations of his Administration’s own Inspector Generals and work with Congress to implement common sense spending cuts that target wasteful and poorly performing programs instead of settling for the furloughs and service disruptions happening under the sequester.”

If these non-partisan recommendations from Inspector Generals across the federal government were implemented, 78 percent of the sequester total would be regained.