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The Annual Federal Spending Free-for-All, Part 2

Saturday October 5th, 2013   •   Posted by Craig Eyermann at 10:03am PDT   •  

ethics-sign1 In Part 1, we focused on the sheer amount of spending that the U.S. government bureaucrats do in the final week of the federal government’s fiscal year. Today, we’re going to look at what they spent on the last day of the federal government’s 2013 fiscal year and on the first day of the partial government shutdown, and also how the federal agency that manages the official credit card accounts for federal bureaucrats would appear to lack any kind of effective spending discipline.

Washington Examiner Editor Mark Tapscott discusses his paper’s recent reporting:

Headlines have been dominated this week by the government shutdown, but some things apparently really never do change, things like federal spending, waste, fraud and abuse.

The Washington Examiner’s watchdog investigative reporting team, for example, delivered two stories this week that provide vital context and detail about the federal bureaucracy.

In the first story, Ethan Barton, the watchdog team’s intern from the National Journalism Center, checked the records and found hundreds of millions of dollars in federal contracts being awarded after the government shutdown began.

“On the first day of the government shutdown, federal agencies awarded 26 contracts worth more than $130 million. The contracts ranged from chemical paint remover for the Air Force to ‘academic uniform shirts’ for the Department of Labor,” Barton reported.

To put that $130 million figure in context, for the 815,239 federal government’s civilian employees that have been furloughed from their jobs because they were deemed “non-essential”, that amount of money would have been sufficient to keep them at their non-essential jobs for just over half a day longer given their average pay of $296.56 per day, as both paint remover and uniform shirts were deemed more essential than them.

public_corruption_6-source-fbiTo be fair to the managers within the federal government bureaucracy who made that determination, with over 80% of the employees at the Departments of Agriculture, Commerce, Education, Environmental Protection, Housing and Urban Development, Interior, and Labor, not to mention a myriad of smaller federal agencies deemed non-essential and being furloughed, that is probably true.

But Tapscott goes on to note his paper’s other series of stories describing the lack of spending discipline that the government’s essential bureaucrats promote at the federal agency that is supposed to oversee their government-issued credit card purchases:

The other story is “Just Sign Here,” a five-part series by Luke Rosiak, a senior investigative reporter and the watchdog team’s data editor, focuses on an obscure federal agency known as the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service.

Rosiak dug into records of thousands of government purchase card transactions by FMCS employees and found a culture of irresponsibility that almost defies description:

“One federal employee leased a $53,000 take-home car with taxpayer money in apparent defiance of federal regulations and regularly billed the government for service at shops such as BMW of Fairfax.

“Others charged the government monthly for family members’ cell phones and high-end TV packages and Internet at home — and even at second homes.

“Managers freely made out checks to employees without requiring documentation of how it would be spent, giving $1,316 directly to one who said she was reimbursing herself for furniture she bought for a ‘home office’ and using convenience checks to give workers bonuses.

“Government employees used federal purchase cards to order items such as a $560 Bose stereo and $1,490 for two high-definition televisions that could not be located.”

We’ll close by noting that all that is above and beyond the already extremely generous benefits of the federal government’s bureaucrats.

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October 2013