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Watchdog: Follow the Money

NASA officials under-reported conference costs by 70 percent

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Watchdog Blog,Federal Budget,Corruption,Conference Spending,NASA,Kelly Cohen,Waste and Fraud,Follow the Money

National Aeronautics and Space Administration officials reported the costs of a 2011 employee conference 70 percent lower than what was actually spent on the event, according to the agency's inspector general.

Though originally projecting the conference would cost $1,176,307, NASA reported after the 2011 "IT Summit Conference" in San Francisco that the bottom-line bill was $1,291,889. In fact, the IG said it found the conference cost almost $2 million.

NASA failed to include in the estimated cost almost $550,000 in contractor fees and $130,000 in "miscellaneous expenses" -- or travel and labor costs. Including those expenses, the total for the conference was $1.97 million -- 50 percent more than amount reported by the space agency and 67 percent more than the original cost estimate.

Another expense not reported by NASA, but included in the $1.97 million figure, was for 12 "planning trips" that cost $53,844, which the IG described as "excessive." The trips included one scouting trip and several other excursions to "organize conference logistics after the conference site had been selected," according to the IG.

The IG also found NASA had no plans to determine cost discrepancies for the conference. NASA also failed to document if it did its best to find whether the San Francisco spot was the cheapest spot one for the IT Summit.

The IG reported that spending by NASA on all employee conferences between October 2010 to September 2012 came to $8.6 million.

Go here for the full report.

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