GSA: What Went Wrong
Posted by Ron Springer | 4/26/12
Because of my job and experience in the field of event planning, I have been getting a lot of people asking me questions about the recent GSA scandal. The details of this now infamous conference are everywhere. The conference itself cost over $800,000. There were six scouting missions to Las Vegas that cost over $130,000. In one especially cringeworthy moment, there’s video of U.S. General Services Administration regional commissioner Jeff Neely, the man at the center of this scandal proclaiming I think I pretty much promised to deliver an over-the-top, unforgettable team building experience. How’d we do on that one?”
To see the video, click here.
I like to use the phrase “what’s appropriate for the situation.” American taxpayers and reporters understand the need to meet and benefits that can be derived from face-to-face communications. People understand what’s reasonable. But remember, this event, while just coming to light now, actually occurred in 2010 when companies all over the United States were cutting back on travel and canceling events. We were in the thick of a recession. The Obama administration said that government agencies should reduce spending.
So what could have been done differently?
1. Las Vegas. Sure, it’s a town that hosts a lot of conferences. Room rates are low and it’s easy to get to. But the notoriety of Vegas being a party town gives the wrong perception. Apparently, what happens in Vegas does not necessarily stay in Vegas.
2. Mind readers and clowns. They are fun ideas for corporate events, but anything, and I mean ANYTHING that is frivolous is not appropriate for a government meeting.
In our field, we all want to create amazing, memorable events. We want them to have an impact and be fun. But you always need to consider what’s appropriate for the time, industry, and occasion before the planning starts.