A new audit just revealed that the Social Security Administration billed taxpayers a staggering $32 million for work conferences.
The Washington Free Beacon reported that the SSA’s inspector general revealed that just over 300 conferences cost taxpayers roughly $100,000 each in travel, meals, and lodging expenses during a three-year period.
Though the audit confirmed that the agency mostly complied with federal reporting requirements to disclose conferences that cost $20,000 or more, the inspector general did find two instances where those conferences were not reported. In each case, the conferences went unreported because initial cost estimates fell below the $20,000 threshold.
The inspector general ended up finding 317 conferences that were held between fiscal years 2013 and 2016.
“The costs of these conferences totaled approximately $31.9 million,” the inspector general said.
Ever since 2013, Congress has mandated that government agencies notify inspector generals of conferences costing more than $20,000 within 15 days. This move was made after the General Services Administration was exposed for billing taxpayers over $800,000 for a lavish conference in Las Vegas that included clowns, mind readers, and hot tub parties.
“SSA generally complied with Federal conference reporting requirements,” the inspector general said. “However, in FY 2016, SSA did not notify OIG of two conferences with expenditures in excess of $20,000 within 15 days of the conference dates as required.”
“On average, in [fiscal years] 2013 through 2016, SSA spent $742 per attendee on conferences,” the inspector general said, adding that, “Conferences with guest speaker expenses ranged from $2,500 to about $255,000.”
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