Mica probes GSA program giving taxpayer-funded iPods, gifts to workers

House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman John Mica (R-Fla.) on Thursday asked the General Services Administration (GSA) to explain an internal program that awarded $200,000 worth of iPods, gift cards and other items for what Mica said were "questionable reasons at best."

Mica's inquiry follows his announcement that his committee will hold a hearing on a $800,000 conference that GSA held in Las Vegas in 2010. That conference was reported by GSA's Inspector General earlier this week, which prompted GSA Administrator Martha Johnson to resign.

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Mica said he learned of GSA's worker rewards program — called the "Hats Off program" — while preparing for that hearing.

"Over the course of the past few days, some of the outrageous spending habits of the GSA have surfaced, and it is unbelievable," Mica said. "First, it was reported that the agency spent $800,000 on a lavish training conference in Las Vegas, and yesterday we learned of an equally over-the-top employee award program that handed out $200,000 worth of taxpayer funded iPods, electronics and gift cards for questionable reasons at best.

"All of this taxpayer money is being wasted and GSA is sitting on our assets with thousands of empty and underutilized federal buildings across the country, costing Americans $1.7 billion each year," he added.

The letter to GSA, also signed by Rep. Jeff Denham (R-Calif.), asked GSA's Inspector General to provide its internal report on the Hats Off program in time for the April 19 hearing that the committee will hold on GSA.

Mica's committee has jurisdiction over GSA's Public Buildings Service, which is where the Hats Off program was run.