The federal government has “dropped the ball” by failing to curb wasteful spending of taxpayer dollars, Sen. James Lankford says. In a new report, he cites 100 examples.
“With a massive $19 trillion federal debt and a half-a-trillion-dollar deficit, we must tackle our federal budget and root out inefficiencies, duplication and wasteful spending wherever they exist,” Lankford, R-Okla., said in a prepared statement.
In what he cast as an effort to push the government toward being more fiscally responsible with taxpayers’ money, Lankford released a report Monday that outlines “federal fumbles” and lists “100 ways the government dropped the ball.”
In the new “wastebook,” Lankford provides examples of wasteful government spending habits and unnecessary regulations, along with solutions for each problem.
Here are 17 of them:
- The Department of Defense’ s Task Force for Business and Stability Operations spent nearly $43 million from 2011 to 2014 to build a compressed natural gas station in Afghanistan that was rarely used and is no longer in operation.
- The Department of Defense also spent over $280,000 on a grant to study the life of a small, threatened bird called the California gnatcatcher. (Lankford suggests Congress should mandate that defense programs support national security.)
- Schools don’t adequately feed children because of Department of Agriculture policies. “Federally mandated lunch standards actually cause many students to not eat enough at lunch,” the report says. “USDA should not force on schools burdensome meal standards that do not provide enough calories for growing children and are often rejected by students.”
- In June 2015 the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services settled claims from 1,900 hospitals for $1.3 billion. Instead of taking time to fix a backlogged system, the Health and Human Services agency agreed to partially pay hospitals that appealed an already-denied claim. The agency paid 300,000 claims earlier deemed “medically unnecessary.”
- Over a year’s time, the Defense Department spent $250 million to train 60 Syrian rebels fighting against the Islamic State terrorist group, or ISIS. That’s around $4 million to train and equip each Syrian rebel.
- The National Institutes of Health this year announced a $48,500 grant to pay a historian to write a book about the history of tobacco use in Russia.
- Paid administrative leave sometimes lasts for years. “Leave it to the federal government to find a way to pay people who are not working,” the report states. “The federal government has made it a habit to place workers accused of misconduct on paid administrative leave for months or even years.”
- The Department of State paid $545,000 to hire a consultant to teach people “how to sit before a congressional hearing and answer questions.”
- State’s diplomatic mission to India announced in July that it would spend $25,000 on a media ethics course to train Indian journalists.
- Starting Dec. 1, the Food and Drug Administration will require restaurants, gas stations, entertainment venues and grocery stores with 20 or more locations to list the total caloric value of prepared food and drinks they sell. Complying with the new rules could cost the grocery industry alone $1 billion in the first year.
- The Defense Department spent $48 million on military-related items for Yemen, including medical supplies and low-grade explosives. The supplies never made it out of a Virginia warehouse.
- An Obamacare investigation commissioned by Congress created 18 fake identities to apply for premium subsidies. Of the fake applicants, 17 were able to obtain tax credits. That’s $30,000 a year for each fake enrollee. Eleven applicants were able to extend their coverage for the following year.
- The National Science Foundation spent almost $1.2 million to teach robots how to choose outfits for and dress the elderly. The kinks are expected to be worked out in at least four years.
- The State Department offered a $250,000 grant to kick-start biodiversity conservation and promote green growth and jobs in Morocco.
- After the Obama administration loaned $2.4 billion to fund Obamacare health insurance co-ops, more than half of the 23 co-ops will have shut their doors by the end of the year.
- A $5 million State Department Twitter account, called “Think Again, Turn Away,” tries to discourage its audience from becoming terrorists.
- The Internal Revenue Service’s inaccurate death records led the Social Security Administration to conclude that millions of dead Americans were still alive. An analysis of SSA records showed 6.5 million people aged 112 and older were alive and kicking.
In total, the report pinpoints $105 billion in what it considers wasteful federal spending, and “about $800 billion in regulatory impact to the economy.”
I present this report as a demonstration of ways we can cut back on wasteful federal spending and burdensome regulations to help families, small businesses, and our economy begin to get out from under the weight of federal stagnation.
The Cabinet-level departments mentioned the most are State, Agriculture and Defense. Among smaller agencies, the most mentioned include the IRS, the National Science Foundation, the U.S. Agency for International Development, the Environmental Protection Agency and the National Park Service.