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Cummings and Cartwright Urge Mulvaney to Abandon His Proposal to Eliminate Conference Reporting Requirements

Jun 21, 2017
Press Release

Cummings and Cartwright Urge Mulvaney to Abandon His Proposal to Eliminate Conference Reporting Requirements


OMB Director Testifies Today Before

House Appropriations Committee

 

Washington, D.C. (June 21, 2017)—Today, Rep. Elijah E. Cummings, the Ranking Member of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, and Rep. Matt Cartwright, a Member of both the Oversight and Appropriations Committees, sent a letter urging Mick Mulvaney, the Director of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), to reverse his proposal to eliminate safeguards put in place after an Oversight Committee investigation identified abusive and wasteful spending on conferences held by federal agencies.

Mulvaney is scheduled to testify today at 2 p.m. before the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Financial Services and General Government.

“We are writing to ask you to reconsider a recent directive from your office that could eliminate several ‘good government’ approval and reporting requirements that were adopted in response to our Committee’s bipartisan oversight efforts to curb wasteful spending on agency conferences,” the Members wrote.  “These measures were implemented to protect the American taxpayers, and we urge you to keep them in place.”

The Members explained that these reporting requirements were adopted in direct response to a bipartisan investigation conducted by the Oversight Committee of several wasteful conferences.

“For example, our Committee held a hearing to examine excessive, wasteful, and improper spending for a conference held in Las Vegas in 2010 by the General Services Administration (GSA),” the Members explained.  “That conference cost approximately $823,000 and included a clown, a mind reader, a $31,000 reception, and a $75,000 bicycle-building team exercise.”

“The senior executive at GSA who hosted the conference became the poster child for these abuses when he was photographed in a hot tub with a glass of wine,” the Members added.  “He pled guilty to fraud and filing false claims, and he received a three-month prison sentence, three years’ probation, and $10,000 in restitution and fines.”

 

The Committee held similar hearings to examine conferences held by the Department of Veterans Affairs in 2011 that cost approximately $6 million and the Internal Revenue Service in 2010 that cost approximately $4 million. 

In response to this bipartisan oversight, both administrative and legislative reforms were put in place to require approvals by agency heads and reporting of conferences that cost more than certain threshold spending limits.

However, Mulvaney issued a Memorandum last week informing the heads of all executive departments and agencies that the Trump Administration is now urging Congress to eliminate these legislative protections, and that OMB will follow suit by eliminating the administrative safeguards as well.

“We believe that both Congress and the Executive Branch should retain these important requirements,” the Members wrote.  “For these reasons, we request that you withdraw your proposal and instead work with us to keep these critical safeguards in place to ensure that federal agencies are good stewards of taxpayer funds.”

Click here to read the letter to OMB Director Mulvaney.

 

 

115th Congress