Government Wastes of YOUR Money

This article is a mixture of my own writing and other articles that compiles the various ways the US government wastes YOUR taxpayer money.  You know the feds waste moneu on all kinds of pet projects and it’s both sides of the aisle doing it.  You’ll notice I like to rail against the left and the liberals, but I also don’t believe the Republicans are angels.  Read this article to see just how frivolously the federal government spends your tax dollars.

No Kidding: Gov’t Issues Study of Study of Studies 

The headline, although it sounds like a joke, is completely, 100 percent serious. The government issued a study to study a study done on government studies.

We’ll give you a second to figure that one out.

“The Pentagon was inundated with so many studies in 2010 that it commissioned a study to determine how much it cost to produce all those studies,” Alyssa Newcomb writes for ABC News.

But now the Government Accountability Office (GAO) has finished a study of the Pentagon’s study of studies and found it to be “lacking.”

“The study of a study of studies began in 2010 when Defense Secretary Robert Gates complained that his department was ‘awash in taskings for reports and studies,’” Newcomb reports, “He wanted to know how much they cost.”

But here we are in 2012 and the Pentagon review is still “ongoing” and it’s for this reason (because it seemed like they weren’t making any headway) Congress tasked the GAO with reviewing the Pentagon’s review.

The conclusion in the GAO report doesn’t reflect very well on the Pentagon.

“The GAO found only nine studies that had been scrutinized by the Pentagon review, but the military was unable to ‘readily retrieve documentation’ for six of the reports,” Newcomb reports.

The Department of Defense’s “approach is not fully consistent with relevant cost estimating best practices and cost accounting standards,” the GAO report claims. In fact, according to the report, the Pentagon study oftentimes excluded crucial costs including manpower.

“The Pentagon ‘partially concurs’ with the GAO’s report,” Newcomb writes, “The cost of the study of the study of the studies was not available from the GAO.”

Seriously, folks?  The federal government has a study on the study of studies?

The Woody’s Got It

The University of California San Francisco was awarded two federal grants (which were a part of the stimulus program) worth approximately $1.5 million dollars to research “erectile dysfunction of overweight middle aged men and the accurate reporting of someone’s sexual history,” NBC Bay Area reports.

According to the Blaze

Grant number 1R01HD056950-01A2 was among the thousands of grants funded, receiving $1.2 million dollars,” the Bay Area’s Investigative Unit reports, “This grant studied how to improve the accuracy of how people responded to questions about their sexual history.”

“If you honestly report on your sexual activity and number of partners?” Scott Amey, the general council for POGO, the Project on Government Oversight, a DC-based watchdog group, said.

“I don’t think most tax payers would think that would be a justified spending of stimulus money to conduct a sex study over fixing bridges and roads that are crumbling every day,” Amey added.

The University of California San Francisco was contacted by NBC Bay Area news team.

“Does it make you wonder a little bit, stimulus money for a study like this?” one reporter asked Jeff Sheehy, an employee of UCSF’s Aids Research Center.

“No it doesn’t,” he answered. “Because to my mind we save money if we get better health outcomes.”

“Playing devil’s advocate,” the Bay Area reporter continued, “Do taxpayers need to spend $1.2 million dollars to figure this out?” And by “this,” the reporter meant “high risk sexual behavior.”

“The judgment wasn’t one that I was asked,” Sheehy replied.

Can you believe that the federal government wastes so much money?  Hell, they did a study on lobsters!

Here are some more stats that may surprise you.  This is from the Heritage Foundation:

Six Categories of Waste

The six categories of wasteful and unnecessary spending are:

  1. Programs that should be devolved to state and local governments;
  2. Programs that could be better performed by the private sector;
  3. Mistargeted programs whose recipients should not be entitled to government benefits;
  4. Outdated and unnecessary programs;
  5. Duplicative programs; and
  6. Inefficiency, mismanagement, and fraud.

The first four categories are generally subjective, and reasonable people can disagree on whether a given federal program falls under their purview. Yet the final two categories — duplication and inefficiency, mismanagement, and fraud — are comparatively easy to identify and oppose. Thus, they are heavily represented in the examples of government waste below:

  1. The federal government made at least $72 billion in improper payments in 2008.[1]
  2. Washington spends $92 billion on corporate welfare (excluding TARP) versus $71 billion on homeland security.[2]
  3. Washington spends $25 billion annually maintaining unused or vacant federal properties.[3]
  4. Government auditors spent the past five years examining all federal programs and found that 22 percent of them — costing taxpayers a total of $123 billion annually — fail to show any positive impact on the populations they serve.[4]
  5. The Congressional Budget Office published a “Budget Options” series identifying more than $100 billion in potential spending cuts.[5]
  6. Examples from multiple Government Accountability Office (GAO) reports of wasteful duplication include 342 economic development programs; 130 programs serving the disabled; 130 programs serving at-risk youth; 90 early childhood development programs; 75 programs funding international education, cultural, and training exchange activities; and 72 safe water programs.[6]
  7. Washington will spend $2.6 million training Chinese prostitutes to drink more responsibly on the job.[7]
  8. A GAO audit classified nearly half of all purchases on government credit cards as improper, fraudulent, or embezzled. Examples of taxpayer-funded purchases include gambling, mortgage payments, liquor, lingerie, iPods, Xboxes, jewelry, Internet dating services, and Hawaiian vacations. In one extraordinary example, the Postal Service spent $13,500 on one dinner at a Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse, including “over 200 appetizers and over $3,000 of alcohol, including more than 40 bottles of wine costing more than $50 each and brand-name liquor such as Courvoisier, Belvedere and Johnny Walker Gold.” The 81 guests consumed an average of $167 worth of food and drink apiece.[8]
  9. Federal agencies are delinquent on nearly 20 percent of employee travel charge cards, costing taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars annually.[9]
  10. The Securities and Exchange Commission spent $3.9 million rearranging desks and offices at its Washington, D.C., headquarters.[10]
  11. The Pentagon recently spent $998,798 shipping two 19-cent washers from South Carolina to Texas and $293,451 sending an 89-cent washer from South Carolina to Florida.[11]
  12. Over half of all farm subsidies go to commercial farms, which report average household incomes of $200,000.[12]
  13. Health care fraud is estimated to cost taxpayers more than $60 billion annually.[13]
  14. A GAO audit found that 95 Pentagon weapons systems suffered from a combined $295 billion in cost overruns.[14]
  15. The refusal of many federal employees to fly coach costs taxpayers $146 million annually in flight upgrades.[15]
  16. Washington will spend $126 million in 2009 to enhance the Kennedy family legacy in Massachusetts. Additionally, Senator John Kerry (D-MA) diverted $20 million from the 2010 defense budget to subsidize a new Edward M. Kennedy Institute.[16]
  17. Federal investigators have launched more than 20 criminal fraud investigations related to the TARP financial bailout.[17]
  18. Despite trillion-dollar deficits, last year’s 10,160 earmarks included $200,000 for a tattoo removal program in Mission Hills, California; $190,000 for the Buffalo Bill Historical Center in Cody, Wyoming; and $75,000 for the Totally Teen Zone in Albany, Georgia.[18]
  19. The federal government owns more than 50,000 vacant homes.[19]
  20. The Federal Communications Commission spent $350,000 to sponsor NASCAR driver David Gilliland.[20]
  21. Members of Congress have spent hundreds of thousands of taxpayer dollars supplying their offices with popcorn machines, plasma televisions, DVD equipment, ionic air fresheners, camcorders, and signature machines — plus $24,730 leasing a Lexus, $1,434 on a digital camera, and $84,000 on personalized calendars.[21]
  22. More than $13 billion in Iraq aid has been classified as wasted or stolen. Another $7.8 billion cannot be accounted for.[22]
  23. Fraud related to Hurricane Katrina spending is estimated to top $2 billion. In addition, debit cards provided to hurricane victims were used to pay for Caribbean vacations, NFL tickets, Dom Perignon champagne, “Girls Gone Wild” videos, and at least one sex change operation.[23]
  24. Auditors discovered that 900,000 of the 2.5 million recipients of emergency Katrina assistance provided false names, addresses, or Social Security numbers or submitted multiple applications.[24]
  25. Congress recently gave Alaska Airlines $500,000 to paint a Chinook salmon on a Boeing 737.[25]
  26. The Transportation Department will subsidize up to $2,000 per flight for direct flights between Washington, D.C., and the small hometown of Congressman Hal Rogers (R-KY) — but only on Monday mornings and Friday evenings, when lawmakers, staff, and lobbyists usually fly. Rogers is a member of the Appropriations Committee, which writes the Transportation Department’s budget.[26]
  27. Washington has spent $3 billion re-sanding beaches — even as this new sand washes back into the ocean.[27]
  28. A Department of Agriculture report concedes that much of the $2.5 billion in “stimulus” funding for broadband Internet will be wasted.[28]
  29. The Defense Department wasted $100 million on unused flight tickets and never bothered to collect refunds even though the tickets were refundable.[29]
  30. Washington spends $60,000 per hour shooting Air Force One photo-ops in front of national landmarks.[30]
  31. Over one recent 18-month period, Air Force and Navy personnel used government-funded credit cards to charge at least $102,400 on admission to entertainment events, $48,250 on gambling, $69,300 on cruises, and $73,950 on exotic dance clubs and prostitutes.[31]
  32. Members of Congress are set to pay themselves $90 million to increase their franked mailings for the 2010 election year.[32]
  33. Congress has ignored efficiency recommendations from the Department of Health and Human Services that would save $9 billion annually.[33]
  34. Taxpayers are funding paintings of high-ranking government officials at a cost of up to $50,000 apiece.[34]
  35. The state of Washington sent $1 food stamp checks to 250,000 households in order to raise state caseload figures and trigger $43 million in additional federal funds.[35]
  36. Suburban families are receiving large farm subsidies for the grass in their backyards — subsidies that many of these families never requested and do not want. [36]
  37. Congress appropriated $20 million for “commemoration of success” celebrations related to Iraq and Afghanistan.[37]
  38. Homeland Security employee purchases include 63-inch plasma TVs, iPods, and $230 for a beer brewing kit.[38]
  39. Two drafting errors in the 2005 Deficit Reduction Act resulted in a $2 billion taxpayer cost.[39]
  40. North Ridgeville, Ohio, received $800,000 in “stimulus” funds for a project that its mayor described as “a long way from the top priority.”[40]
  41. The National Institutes of Health spends $1.3 million per month to rent a lab that it cannot use.[41]
  42. Congress recently spent $2.4 billion on 10 new jets that the Pentagon insists it does not need and will not use.[42]
  43. Lawmakers diverted $13 million from Hurricane Katrina relief spending to build a museum celebrating the Army Corps of Engineers — the agency partially responsible for the failed levees that flooded New Orleans.[43]
  44. Medicare officials recently mailed $50 million in erroneous refunds to 230,000 Medicare recipients.[44]
  45. Audits showed $34 billion worth of Department of Homeland Security contracts contained significant waste, fraud, and abuse.[45]
  46. Washington recently spent $1.8 million to help build a private golf course in Atlanta, Georgia.[46]
  47. The Advanced Technology Program spends $150 million annually subsidizing private businesses; 40 percent of this funding goes to Fortune 500 companies.[47]
  48. Congressional investigators were able to receive $55,000 in federal student loan funding for a fictional college they created to test the Department of Education.[48]
  49. The Conservation Reserve program pays farmers $2 billion annually not to farm their land.[49]
  50. The Commerce Department has lost 1,137 computers since 2001, many containing Americans’ personal data.[50]

Pick the Low-Hanging Fruit

Because many of these examples of waste overlap, it is not possible to determine their exact total cost. Yet it is evident that Washington loses hundreds of billions of dollars annually on spending that most Americans would certainly consider wasteful. Lawmakers seeking to rein in spending and budget deficits should begin by eliminating this least justifiable spending while also addressing long-term entitlement costs.

 

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