Stories about government waste and excess are far from rare.
Large and small, at all levels, government wastes money. Some of it can be chalked up to human error, some to incompetence and some to the fundamental reality that it's always easier to spend other people's money.
But then there are examples that simply boggle the mind. They represent abuses that are so extreme, so outrageous that they leave one almost speechless.
Almost, but not quite. Recent revelations about the United States General Services Administration demand widespread condemnation.
The GSA is the agency that helps other government departments operate efficiently. It oversees buildings and grounds. It assists with communications and transportation. Generally speaking, its operations are supposed to make government work better.
So how do you explain what happened in Las Vegas two years ago? A recent report by the GSA's inspector general blasted spending at the agency's 2010 Western Region conference, where $283,000 was spent on a program for 300 staffers.
The tab includes such things as commemorative medallions, canteens and even a clown for entertainment. The inspector general's report on the event exploded on the agency, forcing the resignation of GSA chief Martha N. Johnson. Two deputies were fired and four regional commissioners of the agency were placed on administrative leave.
We suppose the silver lining in this cloud is that action is being taken against top officials in the GSA, and people presumably will be punished. They will serve as examples for government officials in the future who are tempted to waste public funds on frivolous or short-sighted endeavors.
Unfortunately, we, and others, have made the same observations before. And similar things keep happening. It's a reminder that timely oversight of government spending is something that never goes away.
New Castle News, New Castle, Pa.