ABC News sent an undercover reporter to the month-long bender (plus, like, some meetings and stuff) the Federal Aviation Administration threw for 3,600 of its managers at the four-diamond Omni Hotel in Atlanta. The conference was allegedly to train air traffic control managers how to implement a new contract. Problem is, the contract actually went into effect three months earlier. FAA officials told the ABC they didn't think the new contract would be implemented so soon and had already scheduled the conference for December, so they went ahead with the event anyway.
Salacious, would-be-hilarious-if-they-weren't-spending-my-money excerpts:
- One FAA manager told an ABC News undercover reporter, "Anytime you get a bunch of FAA guys together, it is nothing but a party." Another said, "It beats being at work."
- At the end of one day of meetings, an FAA manager said he and others were about to head out "to dance on tables shortly." He boasted he was "almost arrested" for being drunk and "dancing on the tables" at the last such FAA managers gathering in St. Louis in 2006.
- Another conference attendee asked a female ABC News undercover reporter if she was a "hooker" because "I was ready to reach for my wallet."
- FAA manager Steve Lewis of Phoenix said he thought the meetings and an evening buffet cocktail party would help provide "a more harmonious workplace."
Sounds like the bitchin'est federal party since the TSA spent half a million to celebrate its two-year anniversary (and hand out "lifetime achievement awards"!) at D.C.'s Grand Hyatt back in 2004.
Good times, man. Good times.
Some fun with numbers:
- Federal budget deficit for 2009: $1.9 trillion.
- Average amount of money each U.S. household pays in federal income taxes: $17,388 (as of 2004).
- Approximate number of years' worth of income tax that household would have to pay to underwrite the FAA party in Atlanta: 288.
- Amount of money the FAA has asked from taxpayers to upgrade it's 40-year-old air traffic control equipment: $22 billion.
Finally, if you've ever wondered (fantacized?) what happens when a gaggle of randy GS-10s take off their glasses, put down their styli, and start shooting Jaeger, well, ABC has the video.