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Oh, to be a bureaucrat in the U.S. federal government! What other jobs pay just as much or more than similar work done in the private sector, but with much, much more generous benefits? Which would appear to be even more generous than we previously knew, thanks to the discovery of a surprising new perk by Scott McFarlane of Washington, D.C.’s NBC affiliate, News4 I-Team: taxpayer-funded purchase cards with no accountability!
The federal government has spent at least $20 billion in taxpayer money this year on items and services that it is permitted to keep secret from the public, according to an investigation by the News4 I-Team.
The purchases, known among federal employees as “micropurchases,” are made by some of the thousands of agency employees who are issued taxpayer-funded purchase cards. The purchases, in most cases, remain confidential and are not publicly disclosed by the agencies. A sampling of those purchases, obtained by the I-Team via the Freedom of Information Act, reveals at least one agency used those cards to buy $30,000 in Starbucks Coffee drinks and products in one year without having to disclose or detail the purchases to the public….
The I-Team, using the Freedom of Information Act, received a list of “micropurchases” made by the Dept. of Homeland Security at Starbucks vendors nationwide in 2013. The list includes dozens of transactions, including in Washington, D.C., and Maryland. Several of the purchases were made at an Alameda, California, Starbucks vendor and cost more than $2,400 each, just below the $3,000 threshold for which purchases need not be publicly disclosed. After reviewing the I-Team’s findings, Rep. John Mica (R-FL), chair of a U.S House Oversight subcommittee said, “When you have $10,000 being spent at one Starbucks by DHS employees in one city in six months, someone is abusing the purchasing permission that we have given them.”
“DHS” refers to the Department of Homeland Security. From the information provided above, it would appear that DHS employees sought to conceal a very large purchase from Starbucks in Alameda, California, by breaking the purchase into smaller transactions to avoid having to disclose the true scale of the expenditure, much like drug traffickers do with their bank deposits in order to avoid the scrutiny of the authorities.
In this case, the DHS facility nearest to Alameda’s Starbucks locations is the U.S. Coast Guard Base at Alameda, whose personnel would appear to know quite a lot about how drug traffickers operate, which perhaps explains how a DHS employee could come up with that particular purchasing strategy.
Now, multiply that single abuse by a single federal government bureaucrat for spending $10,000 at a single Starbucks location by the federal government’s two million civilian employees, and that goes a very long way to explaining how the bureaucrats’ secret buying spree can add up to a bill that totals $20 billion dollars.
U.S. Department of Transportation