Second Round of Sequester Cuts Begin, Washington Behaves Irrationally

| May 24 2013

The 12 Percent

 As lawmakers begin round two of their political grandstanding against cutting three cents on the dollar in federal spending, a new report shows that billions are still being wasted.  The Government Accountability Office (GAO) recently found that only 12 percent of its more than 300 recommendations to “eliminate, combine or modify duplicative programs” have been carried out.  Keep that in mind the next time someone asks if they are going to have to eliminate all funding for special education.

SECOND ROUND OF SEQUESTER CUTS BEGIN, WASHINGTON BEHAVES IRRATIONALLY

Second Round Of Sequester Cuts Highlight Washington’s Inability To Budget Rationally:It is increasingly likely that this second round of indiscriminate cuts will reprise the first sequester, with concomitant public frustration about Washington’s inability to budget rationally.” (Erik Wasson, “Here Comes Sequester: Part 2,” The Hill, 5/22/13)

Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) Asks If They Will Have To Eliminate All Funding For Special Education: “Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa), who heads the Senate Appropriations Labor subcommittee, argued the cuts would be devastating.  ‘Do they intend to eliminate the entire National Institutes of Health? That wouldn’t be enough to achieve their proposed cut,’ he said. ‘Do they plan to eliminate all funding for special education, Title I, after-school centers, and teacher quality? Again, that wouldn’t be enough to achieve their proposed cut.’“(Erik Wasson, “Here Comes Sequester: Part 2,” The Hill, 5/22/13)

MEANWHILE, THE GAO FINDS THAT WASHINGTON IGNORED LAST YEAR’S REPORT, STILL WASTING BILLIONS 

The Hill: “GAO: Government Not Cutting Waste.” “Congress and the Obama administration have scrapped just a fraction of the duplicative programs targeted for cuts by Government Accountability Office (GAO), the agency’s chief told lawmakers Wednesday. Comptroller General Gene L. Dodaro said just 12 percent of more than 300 recommendations issued by GAO since 2011 to eliminate, combine or modify duplicative programs have been fully carried out.” (Ben Goad, “GAO: Government not cutting waste,” The Hill, 5/22/13)

The Highlights:

Billions Still Being Wasted On Duplicative Programs: “The hearing follows the release of the latest in a series of GAO reports finding billions of taxpayer dollars are being wasted on government overlap spread across dozens of federal agencies.  Among its findings is the existence of two separate programs responsible for federal catfish inspections, 76 different drug abuse programs and a general lack of coordination between departments charged with providing veterans services.“ (Ben Goad, “GAO: Government not cutting waste,” The Hill, 5/22/13)

$82 Million In Unnecessary Expenses At The Pentagon: “The Pentagon has wasted $82 million in unnecessary expenses for military uniforms that now come in seven different camouflage patterns.” (Ben Goad, “GAO: Government not cutting waste,” The Hill, 5/22/13)

Billions Lost At The IRS And $66 Million In Overlapping Contracts At The Department Of Homeland Security: “The report identified billions more in revenue lost as a result of untargeted enforcement by the Internal Revenue Service and dozens of contracts awarded by the Department of Homeland Security that overlapped with activities already conducted elsewhere in the department. Together the contracts totaled roughly $66 million.” (Ben Goad, “GAO: Government not cutting waste,” The Hill, 5/22/13)

 

AND THE LIST GOES ON …

U.S. Military Camouflage An “Expensive Case Study In Federal Duplication”: “In 2002, the U.S. military had just two kinds of camouflage uniforms. One was green, for the woods. The other was brown, for the desert. Then things got strange.  Today, there is one camouflage pattern just for Marines in the desert. There is another just for Navy personnel in the desert. The Army has its own ‘universal’ camouflage pattern, which is designed to work anywhere. It also has another one just for Afghanistan, where the first one doesn’t work. … In just 11 years, two kinds of camouflage have turned into 10. And a simple aspect of the U.S. government has emerged as a complicated and expensive case study in federal duplication.” (David A. Fahrenthold, “With 10 Patterns, U.S. Military Branches Out On Camouflage Front,” The Washington Post, 5/8/13)

GAO Finds The Pentagon Spent More Than $12 Million On Designing New Camouflage Patterns: “At the Pentagon, a GAO study commissioned by the Senate Armed Services Committee found that the military services have spent more than $12 million on designing new camouflage patterns. The cost of buying, stocking and shipping 10 different types of camouflage uniforms is believed to be millions more. Is anybody trying to fix this?” (David A. Fahrenthold, “With 10 Patterns, U.S. Military Branches Out On Camouflage Front,” The Washington Post, 5/8/13)

 Congress Forces Pentagon To Spend Billions On Tanks, Ships And Planes It Doesn’t Need. “Lawmakers have nixed several of the money-saving ideas, instead forcing the Defense Department to purchase or maintain equipment it says it doesn’t need. Take for instance the half-billion dollars in Abrams tanks that Congress ordered up for the next two years, or the seven obsolete ships the Navy is being forced to keep. The Pentagon says it doesn’t want them, or need them. But taxpayers will keep paying the price.” (Phillip Swarts, “Lawmakers force Pentagon to buy tanks, keep ships and planes it doesn’t need,” The Washington Guardian, 5/10/13)


REALITY: Billions Lost In Unemployment Fraud.
“A study by the St. Louis Federal Reserve released last week found that of the $108 billion paid out in unemployment benefits in 2011, some $3.3 billion was paid out dishonestly The largest share of the fraud payments—$2.2 billion—went to people who were still working.” (Mark Koba, “$3.3 Billion Lost in Unemployment Fraud: Study,” CNBC, 4/29/13)

Taxpayers Suffer Loss In Auto Company Investment: “Fisker Automotive Inc. spent more than six times as much U.S. taxpayer and investor money to produce each luxury plug-in car it sold than the company received from customers, according to a research report. … Fisker has spent $1.3 billion in taxpayer and venture capital money, or $660,000 for each car it sold, the report said.”(Angela Greiling Keane, “Fisker Spent $660,000 on Each $103,000 Plug-in Car,” Bloomberg, 4/18/13)

The potential loss of $171 million would be largest loss of federal loan money since the 2011 failure of solar panel maker Solyndra, which declared bankruptcy and laid off all its workers after receiving a $528 million loan from the Energy Department.” (Matthew Daly, “Obama Adminsitration Had Advanced Warning On Fisker,” The Associated Press, 4/24/13)

FAA Tech Upgrade Running Nearly Half A Billion Over Budget “With No End In Sight:” “For more than a decade the FAA has promised to modernize and make the civil aviation system more efficient and reliable, but the only things it has reliably generated are delays or cost overruns or usually both. The project, known as NextGen, is four years off schedule with no end in sight. … A 2011 investigation found that one part of NextGen ran $330 million over budget—or half of the FAA sequester—and then the FAA paid the contractor responsible $150 million in bonuses…. The overruns are now approaching $500 million, and that’s merely one item.” (The Wall Street Journal, “Flying the Government Skies,” 4/23/13)

IRS Overpaid Upwards Of $13 Billion In Tax Credits: “The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) overpaid between $11.6 billion and $13.6 billion in tax credits designed to help low-income families in fiscal 2012 , the Treasury Department announced in a report released Monday.” (Julian Hattem, “IRS overpaid up to $13.6B in low-income tax credits, report finds,” The Hill, 4/22/13)

Postal Service Hemorrhaging $25 Million A Day:  “The U.S. Postal Service could become ‘a significant burden to the taxpayer’ if it does not get needed flexibility to change its business operations, Postmaster General Patrick R. Donahoe told Congress Wednesday. … ‘We are losing $25 million dollars every day and we are on an unsustainable path.’” (“USPS losing $25 million daily with ‘broken business model,’” The Washington Post, 4,17,13)

Redundant Federal Programs Wasting Billions: “Redundant federal programs are leading to billions in waste, congressional auditors say, and the government is slow to adopt reforms to fix the problem. The White House says President Obama recognizes the problem and will propose eliminating redundant programs in the budget plan he releases Wednesday. … Over the past three years, the Government Accountability Office found 162 areas where agencies are duplicating efforts, at a cost of tens of billions of dollars. How many billions? No one knows.” (Gregory Korte, “Report: Redundant Federal Programs Waste Billions,” USA Today, 4/9/13)

Billions For New Mapping Data: “Government agencies are spending billions on new mapping data — without checking whether some other government agency already has maps they could use.” (Gregory Korte, “Report: Redundant Federal Programs Waste Billions,” USA Today, 4/9/13)

Duplicative Renewable Energy Programs: “At least 23 different federal agencies run hundreds of programs to support renewable energy.” (Gregory Korte, “Report: Redundant Federal Programs Waste Billions,” USA Today, 4/9/13)

Lack Of Coordination Between Branches Of The Armed Services: “Each branch of the armed services is developing its own camouflage uniforms without sharing them with other services.” (Gregory Korte, “Report: Redundant Federal Programs Waste Billions,” USA Today, 4/9/13)

Overlapping Research At The Department Of Homeland Security: “29 Department of Homeland Security contracts that partly or completely overlapped with research being done by another part of the same department. Five contracts funded research into the detection of the same chemical.” (Gregory Korte, “Report: Redundant Federal Programs Waste Billions,” USA Today, 4/9/13)

Stimulus-Funded Condom Study Creates Zero Jobs. The details of a stimulus grant awarded to Indiana University to study condom use have now been released on a government website. The study, titled ‘Barriers to Correct Condom Use,’ is now completed, according to the website, and the university received $423,500 of stimulus funds to perform the study. The stimulus project yielded a total of 0.00 jobs created, according to the federal government. ‘No jobs created/retained,’ the form says under ‘Description of Jobs Created.'” (Daniel Halper, “$423,500 Stimulus Program on ‘Correct Condom Use’ Yields Zero Jobs,” The Weekly Standard, 4/4/2013)

House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Report Finds Unimplemented Recommendations Could Have Saved Taxpayers $67 Billion. “The Committee’s review found that the backlog had grown to a high of 16,906 open recommendations. Using the most conservative cost-saving estimates, implementing these recommendations could save taxpayers $67 billion per year.” (House  Oversight and Government Reform Committee Report, “Staff Report: Open and Unimplemented IG Recommendations Could Save Taxpayers $67Billion,” 3/5/13)

Energy Department Approved $3.5 Million in Bonuses to 10 Employees, Some As Much As 82 Percent Above The Market Rate. “Federal employees are facing unpaid days off and salary cuts due to the sequester, but several contract workers inside the Energy Department are still raking in the cash. Ten individuals at the department’s Oak Ridge nuclear laboratory are set to make an extra $3.5 million above and beyond their normal pay, according to an Energy Department inspector general investigation that exposes a lavish bonus system. The 10 people are executives at the company UCOR, which the department hired for environmental clean-up.  And despite watchdog warnings that the executives’ salaries are as much as 82 percent above the market rate, Energy Department officials continue to pay out the bonuses.” (Phillip Swarts, “Energy Department approves lavish bonuses: $3.5 million to 10 workers alone,” Washington Guardian, 3/29/13)

IRS Video Production Unit Costs Taxpayers $4 Million A Year: “The Senate’s top tax-writer wants answers from the IRS about a ‘Star Trek’ spoof that the tax-collecting agency has now apologized for making. … Baucus also questioned why the IRS had a video production unit at all — especially at its reported $4 million a year price tag. The ‘Star Trek” parody and a separate takeoff on “Gilligan’s Island” cost around $60,000 in tandem, the IRS has said.” (Bernie Becker, “Baucus to IRS: How did the ‘Star Trek’ video happen? Who’s responsible?,” The Hill, 3/27/13)

Energy Department Mismanaged More Than $90 Million In Stimulus: “The Energy Department’s (DOE) internal watchdog is attacking DOE management of a $1.5-billion stimulus program to help develop technology that captures industrial carbon dioxide emissions. An Office of Inspector General (IG) audit made public Tuesday examines $1.1 billion in funding for 15 projects. The audit notes three project recipients together received $90 million even though reviews of the proposals ‘identified significant financial and/or technical issues.’” (Ben Geman, “Report: Energy Department Mismanaged Stimulus-Backed Climate Program, The Hill, 3/22/13)

 “Pentagon Handed Out $419 Million In Improper Travel Reimbursements Last Year.” “While making improvements in some spending areas, the Defense Department was singled out this week for failing to trim unnecessary travel reimbursements. In fact, the Pentagon’s internal watchdog concluded that wasteful travel spending actually grew last year to a total of $419.3 million, accounting for roughly five percent of the Pentagon’s mammoth $8.4 billion travel budget.” (Phillip Swarts, “Pentagon Handed Out $419 Million In Improper Travel Reimbursements Last Year,” The Washington Guardian, 3/21/13) 

 

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