General Services Administration head resigns amid reports of lavish spending

WASHINGTON - The head of the General Services Administration resigned Monday after a report concluded that her agency improperly paid for an “over-the-top’’ training session near Las Vegas that featured a mind reader, bicycle giveaways, and lavish after-hour receptions in resort suites for federal workers.

The White House accepted Martha Johnson’s resignation after she dismissed two deputies and suspended other career employees over an $820,000 conference. The 300-person event at the M Resort Spa and Casino in Henderson, Nev., included a $95-per-person dinner and reception as well as various violations of federal laws and policies.

“As the agency Congress has entrusted with developing the rules followed by other federal agencies for conferences, GSA has a special responsibility to set an example, and that did not occur here,’’ the inspector general concluded in its report.


Robert Peck, Public Buildings Service chief, and Johnson’s top adviser, Stephen Leeds, were forced out. Four GSA employees who organized the five-day conference for the Public Buildings Service’s western region have been placed on administrative leave.

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President Obama “was outraged by the excessive spending, questionable dealings with contractors, and disregard for taxpayer dollars,’’ White House chief of staff Jack Lew said in a statement.

The planners spent more than $136,000 on a pre-conference visit to Las Vegas.