Norton: GSA should plan its own events

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Local,DC,Alan Blinder

D.C. Del. Eleanor Norton Holmes wants the much-maligned General Services Administration to use in-house event planners.

"I recommend that GSA and other federal agencies use only a fairly small cadre of internal federal employees who could be dedicated to conference planning," Norton wrote in a letter to Acting GSA Administrator Dan Tangherlini. "The use of in-house personnel would save taxpayer funds."

In her letter, Norton cited the expense of hiring an outside planner for a November 2010 event in Crystal City. Although the entire event cost about $269,000, Norton said the agency paid about $104,000 for an outside contractor to plan it.

The GSA also spent more than $35,000 for picture frames and another $20,000 for catering.

"Event planners are accustomed to events for private companies, which do not have the constraints that taxpayers would expect," Norton wrote. "Therefore, they should only be used for special occasions."

The GSA has come under heavy criticism for excessive spending at its events, and a House committee is investigating its activities. Norton is a member of the panel overseeing the congressional probe.

ablinder@washingtonexaminer.com

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