The Public Buildings Service, a unit of the U. S. General Services Administration, is responsible for looking after all federal real estate of which there is quite a lot.

Had the Congress not made it virtually impossible, some of the unused land and buildings could have been sold with the proceeds used for something useful like repaying debt.

But nobody pays attention to any of this because the Public Buildings Service pretty much defines the concept of government obscurity.

Until, of course, it’s Western Region decides to do a little team-building and networking in Las Vegas.

The optics are appalling. PBS officials seem to have cleverly forgotten the “above the fold” rule (how will this story look on the front page of a leading newspaper?) and spent some $823,000 on what would be a routine corporate event except that it was paid for with taxpayer dollars.

Is it possible to measure the head start given to your public relations opponents if you hold your event in Las Vegas? To be sure, it is now unwise to hold your event in Cartagena, Columbia either but we never read headlines like “Dalliance in Des Moines.” Note to self: clowns and mentalists make it too easy for even the most youthful and inexperienced Congressional staffers.

Nothing unites the Congress of the United States like a bit of dudgeon, the higher the better. What could possibly improve upon a splendid afternoon of finger wagging as a hapless bureaucrat invokes his Fifth Amendment rights against self-incrimination.

There will be more to this story as the details unfold, but perhaps it would be helpful to keep track of the cost of piling on? In the continuing quest for government revenues, a “dudgeon fee” could be imposed upon the two political parties for any activities, the costs of which exceed the cost of the problem.

A small portion of the amount collected could be used to purchase lots of pairs of oven mitts so that self-important congressmen and their self-important staffers do not burn themselves when turning the spotlights toward themselves.

In a separate development, the cost of the PBS event appears to be quite similar to the cost of flying Secretary of Defense, Leon Panetta, home to California each weekend.

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