Martha Johnson, who resigned as chief of the agency after the inspector general's report was issued this month, said the Western Regions Conference "had evolved into a raucous, extravagant, arrogant, self-congratulatory event."
Johnson, whom lawmakers accused of sitting on the findings for 11 months after receiving an interim briefing from the inspector general, apologized "to the American people for the entire situation.
"As the head of the agency, I am responsible. I deeply regret that the exceedingly good work of GSA has been besmirched. I will mourn for the rest of my life the loss of my appointment."
Previously, Neely had told inspector general investigators that a $2,700 party he threw in his Las Vegas hotel suite was an employee-awards event, according to a transcript of the interview.
"This is an award recognition ceremony ...." Neely insisted to an internal investigator. "That's what this was. That's...not a Neely party right. I actually...it was in a suite that wasn't even mine."
The investigator then confronted Neely with his email saying that he and his wife "are hosting a party in our loft room. There will be wine and beer and some munchies...." There was no mention of awards.
When Neely insisted again it was an awards event, the skeptical investigator told him, "You realize how this looks?"
"I get it that it looks funny," said Neely.
The inspector general has referred Neely to the Justice Department for a possible criminal investigation, according to a congressional committee official who was not authorized to be quoted by name on the subject.
It was not clear what the department was asked to investigate.
Neely, on leave as regional commissioner of the Public Buildings Service for the Pacific Rim, was largely responsible for the Las Vegas conference.
The Oversight Committees released internal memos that showed GSA officials debated last year whether to give Neely a bonus for his job performance. The officials were aware at the time that the inspector general was investigating the conference spending.
The now-resigned GSA administrator, Martha Johnson, granted Neely a $9,000 bonus over the objection of Deputy Administrator Susan Brita.
Brita wrote in a November 2011 email, that "based on what we know already" about the conference and a questionable awards program, "I would not recommend a bonus."
Johnson wrote in an email, "yes on a bonus" in part because Neely had to serve in an acting capacity "forever and a day."
Intellpuke: You can read this article by Associated Press writer Larry Margasak, reporting from Washington, D.C., in context here: www.guardian.co.uk/world/feedarticle/10197888