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July 18th, 2012
11:45 PM ET

Troubled federal agency paid for cooking classes, hosted holiday video contest

Amid an ongoing congressional probe into the General Services Administration, a CNN investigation has uncovered more evidence of wasteful spending at the agency, including cooking classes for employees that cost as much as $3,350 per class.

For years, the GSA paid to send employees to these cooking classes to build team spirit, part of a spending pattern that the agency now says was inappropriate.

Employees based in Kansas City, Missouri, attended classes at The Culinary Center of Kansas City, located in suburban Overland Park, where they cooked meals.

Senator encourage GSA to 'clean house'

The GSA confirmed that there were nine classes beginning in June 2007, with the last class in June 2011. The total cost to the GSA was $20,701.

"We should be thinking about our federal customers, our taxpayers and our associates," said one employee who attended a cooking class. "And that seems to have been lost in these team-building exercises ... If you don't go, you're ostracized."

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soundoff (7 Responses)
  1. Jason

    I don't like the idea of treating public workers like mindless, soulless robots who are not worthy of having incentives and morale days. These are people who provide important public services and I am concerned with their mental well-being so I support these types of expenses within reason. Our soldiers are public workers, and I would not support cutting funds from the USO to save a marginal amount of money so we can keep taxes low for investment bankers.

    July 25, 2012 at 5:30 am |
  2. Lisa

    As a government employee facing budget cuts, possible office closure, and job relocation,I think this is a really big deal they are not looking out for the best interest of the government

    July 23, 2012 at 4:29 pm |
  3. Steve

    Shameful. It's easy spending other people's money.

    July 20, 2012 at 8:56 pm |
  4. Carly

    Every organization has teambuilding activities. This is being sensationalized and scandalized. What happened in Vegas was bad. The videos are bad. Letting employees participate in a once a year teambuilding event is standard.

    July 19, 2012 at 11:27 am |
  5. Susan W

    The GSA staff made holiday videos as an office holiday social activity. . . . WHO CARES? ! ? I doubt they spent day after day on this task and certainly not huge funds. I support monitoring spending of our tax dollars but this story is bogus. Their culinary class meetings were twice a year totalling $20,000 over all of the years . How much do other companies spend on meetings/training per year? 20,000 pales in comparison.

    July 19, 2012 at 1:58 am |
    • rich

      theres a difference when a company is using its profits to rewards its employees. this is tax payer money. our money used to teach cooking classes? heres the reason this country is debt we will never get out of. people like you thinking this sort of thing is acceptable

      July 24, 2012 at 12:04 pm |
  6. Krystel

    The wasteful spending from GSA really feels like it has been blown way out of proportion. I think its great that every once in a while they reward their employees with incentives. Maybe spending could be cut back but to say they can no longer make Christmas videos or reward employees with a catered lunch occasionally is terrible. The cooking classes and making videos together is really a way to encourage team building. These types of activities happen all the time in the corporate world. If these employees work hard and get their work done, incentives shouldn't be a problem.

    July 19, 2012 at 1:55 am |