Special Events Blog

The wacky world of the GSA

When I first heard about the flap over "excessive" spending on events by the U.S. General Services Administration, I was worried, concerned we'd suffer through another event drought à la the bad old days of the "AIG effect."

But no longer.

And that's because the more I learned about the alleged antics of the GSA exec at the center of the storm—a fellow named Jeff Neely—the more I concluded that he isn't on the same planet as the event professionals I have known for more than a decade.

Giving phony "awards" to justify an F&B spend? Taking the Fifth so you don't have to describe your event? Then failing to show up even to take the Fifth?

The event pros I know can explain their event choices, outline their objectives and strategies, and document their results. They are proud of what they do and confident their work serves a legitimate business purpose. Because it does.

Of course, probably the most ironic feature of the GSA brouhaha is that Mr. Neely seems to have been under the impression he had access to an unlimited budget. When was the last time you felt that way?

Subsequent news coverage is raising questions about Mr. Neely taking fancy trips and about missing award prizes, including 115 iPods. This story isn't about special events; it's about the difficulty some people have managing greed.

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