Post Info TOPIC: Wasteful government spending

Wasteful government spending

Wasteful Government Spending 
  • $750,000 for the Baseball Hall of Fame
  • $202,500 to the Suffolk Sports Hall of Fame, Sports Research Center in Patchogue, New York for facilities renovations
  • $405,000 to the Staten Island Soccer League of New York for facilities construction
  • $800,000 to the New York Olympic Regional Development Authority for facilities construction for the Mount VanHoevenberg Olympic Sports Complex
  • $90,000 for the City of Waterbury, Connecticut for an economic feasibility study focused on construction of a multi-purpose sports facility
  • $50,000 for "Pro Sports Outreach," whatever that is.

Duplication and program overlap in the federal government are widespread.  For example:

Job training.  Taxpayers spend $20 billion per year for 165 job-training programs that are administered by 15 different federal agencies. Moreover, the GAO has found that most federal agencies are unable to determine the effectiveness of their programs.

Economic development.  There are 342 economic development programs managed by 13 agencies, and little or no coordination.

Juvenile programs.  Ten departments, three independent agencies, one federal commission, one presidential council, and one quasi-official agency administer 131 juvenile programs at a cost of $4 billion per year.

Education.  The federal education bureaucracy involves more than 788 programs in 40 different federal agencies at a cost of nearly $100 billion each year. An estimated 30 cents of every federal educational dollar is lost in overhead and never makes it to the classroom.

War on drugs.  At least 70 programs across 57 different departments and agencies receive over $16 billion a year to fight illegal drug use. Among the most blatant examples of government waste and mismanagement, however, are the 19 drug "intelligence centers" dispersed among 10 departments; much of the information generated by these centers is off-limits to other agencies.

Food safety.  HHS and Agriculture are among 16 different agencies that address food safety.

Statistics.  Producing and publishing statistical data on the country's economic and social makeup involves 70 different agencies within 12 Cabinet departments.
  Old Programs United States Geological Survey (USGS).  Established in 1879 to catalogue the geology of the United States and develop an inventory of its mineral resources, the USGS epitomizes government's inability to retire programs and agencies that have satisfied their original missions.  With over 60,000 maps of American lands compiled and issued, and new projects like the Internet-based "Ask a Geologist" underway, the USGS should be privatized or eliminated.

Veterans Affairs (VA) Home Loan Guarantee Program.  This loan program was designed to encourage lenders to provide money to World War I and World War II veterans at more favorable terms.  Today, the VA spends nearly $50 million per year to fund this program despite the fact that there is a strong secondary mortgage market which can and does provide financing for home building and buying at reasonable rates.

Rural Utilities Service (RUS).  The RUS fulfilled its mission to bring electric and telephone service to rural America by the mid-1950s, yet the program continues at considerable expense to taxpayers.  At a cost of $695 million in FY 1997, the RUS is expanding its mission by searching for new technologies that can be subsidized and offered to rural households.

Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA).  The TVA currently receives $70 million per year in taxpayer support for non-power activities--subsidies it can do without.  These activities include both economic development and an Environmental Research Center; in testimony before the House Appropriations Committee, however, TVA officials themselves admitted that neither function is essential.  Moreover, Members of Congress have ridiculed the TVA repeatedly for avoiding steps to downsize and move toward a more efficient use of its resources.

Power Marketing Administrations (PMAs).  Customers of PMAs have enjoyed hidden taxpayer subsidies because these government-owned utilities have been able to borrow from the federal treasury at below-market interest rates and take as long as 50 years to pay back the loans.  At a cost of $241 million in FY 1997, and after nearly half a century of such subsidies, it is time for Congress to consider fully privatizing the PMAs.  The GAO has stated that "privatization would benefit both consumers and the electric industry."

Strategic Petroleum Reserve (SPR).  Funded at $207.5 million in FY 1997, the SPR has become an expensive yet obsolete vestige of the regulated oil markets that existed before the advent of deregulation in 1981 under President Ronald Reagan.  The Congressional Research Service concludes that when SPR oil was sold during the Gulf War (the only time emergency sales had been authorized since creation of the program), "the SPR drawdown did not appear to be needed to help settle markets."
 Lack of management accountability

As the bureaucracy has continued to grow larger and more complex, waste, fraud, and abuse have prospered.  In 1995, the GAO reported that the waste and fraud investigators had uncovered cost $350 billion, and it cautioned that hundreds of billions of dollars more could be wasted in the future if the government did not change the way it did business and managed its programs.  Specific examples include:

The National Park Service spent nearly $600,000 per home to construct rental housing for employees in Yosemite National Park.  According to agency auditors, comparable private single-family homes near Yosemite range in value from $102,000 to $250,000.

More than 25 percent, or $4.4 billion worth, of Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) claims are in "error."

Recent estimates put fraud and overpayments in the Medicare system at 14 percent of federal payments, or $23 billion each year.

The IRS spent $4 billion in recent years trying to upgrade its computer system, which led to an inability to collect or even identify and categorize delinquent debt and poor service to taxpayers seeking assistance.

When the Mashantucket Pequot Housing Authority in Ledyard, Connecticut, wanted to return $1.5 million in unused federal funds, Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) officials reportedly told the authority to use the money on unneeded housing rather than send it back to the Treasury Department.  The Housing Authority eventually used the funds to subsidize construction of $428,000 homes for "over-income tribal members."
 Corporate welfare

Each year, the U.S. government funds hundreds of programs that largely benefit businesses and private industries which could, and should, finance these activities without taxpayer assistance.  In FY 1998, appropriations for such corporate welfare totaled approximately $40 billion.  For example:

The Advanced Technology Program (ATP) spends $200 million per year funding commercial research and development projects.  Its largest beneficiaries (either individual recipients or partners in joint ventures) include America's largest corporations.  According to an MSNBC study of data provided by the ATP, the top 10 ATP recipients are:
  1.  IBM   $111,279,738  2.  General Motors   $82,134,245  3.  General Electric   $75,449,636  4.  Ford Motor   $66,457,718  5.  Sun Microsystems   $50,113,692  6.  Texas Instruments, Inc.   $45,545,315  7.  Sarnoff Corporation   $38,270,692  8.  United Technologies Corporation   $37,173,594  9.  National Center for Manufacturing Sciences   $37,011,925 10.  Philips Electronics   $36,518,489The Next Generation Internet Initiative proposed by [president Clinton] would create a more reliable, secure, affordable, and rapid Internet by showering $300 million on a high-tech industry that has these same goals and does not need taxpayer assistance.  In fact, Intel, Microsoft, and other high-technology companies announced in January 1998 that they will soon introduce technology allowing for speedier access to Internet sites.  As is typical of such corporate welfare programs, Americans will pay for such federally subsidized Internet research twice--as taxpayers and as consumers.

The National Rail Passenger Service Corporation (Amtrak) primarily serves middle-class riders (75 percent of its passengers have annual incomes of more than $40,000) and a significant number of business travelers.  In 1997, Amtrak's more than $860 million in federal dollars amounted to a $47 subsidy for every passenger, regardless of income.

Community Development Block Grants (CDBG) cost roughly $4.5 billion each year.  The CDBG program is intended to help local governments fund an array of community renewal projects, such as housing rehabilitation, street maintenance, and economic development.  The CBO has estimated that roughly $510 million per year of this funding benefits local businesses and industries directly.



How Your Government Wastes Your Moneyby Brian Riedl  (June 3, 2005)

This year, Washington will spend an eye-popping $22,039 per household. That is the highest inflation-adjusted total since World War II, and $5,000 per household more than Washington spent just four years ago. With difficult decisions ahead, government waste should be the easiest place to begin bringing spending under control.

Amazingly, Congress hasn’t undertaken any serious look at government waste since the 1984 Grace Commission. Lack of information isn’t the problem: Hundreds of recent government program audits are collecting dust on bookshelves across Capitol Hill. Instead, the problem is that reducing waste would distract lawmakers from shipping pork-barrel projects home and shoveling government spending to favored interests. So it is no surprise that the federal government costs 33 percent more than it did in 2001.

While lawmakers focus on expanding government, The Heritage Foundation uncovered the following ways in which Washington wastes tax dollars:

First, the federal government cannot account for $25 billion it spent in 2003. That’s billion with a “b.” Federal auditors know that $25 billion was spent by someone, somewhere, on something, but don’t know who spent it, where it was spent or on what it was spent. That amount is more than the total federal taxes paid by all of the residents in each of 28 states. It’s enough to fund the entire Department of Justice budget.

That’s just the beginning. Another audit shows the Defense Department purchased and then left unused approximately 270,000 commercial airline tickets at a total cost of $100 million. Even worse, the Pentagon never bothered to file a refund for these fully refundable tickets.

And that’s not counting the 27,000 times the Pentagon paid twice for the same airline ticket, at a total cost of $8 million. This wasted $108 million could have purchased seven Blackhawk helicopters, 17 M-1 Abrams tanks, or a large supply of additional body armor for U.S. troops in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Credit-card fraud is another problem. Federal employee credit-card programs were designed to streamline government procurement rules by allowing government employees to purchase job-related products with credit cards that would be paid by their agency. But this well-intentioned idea was quickly abused. Over one recent 18-month period, Air Force and Navy personnel used govern­ment-funded credit cards to charge at least $102,400 for admission to entertainment events, $48,250 for gambling, $69,300 for cruises and $73,950 for exotic dance clubs and prostitutes.

Not to be outdone, investigators randomly sampled 300 Department of Agriculture (USDA) employee credit cards. They found that, over six months, 15 percent of them charged a total $5.8 million in personal expenses that included Ozzy Osbourne concert tickets, tattoos, lingerie, bartender school tuition, car payments and cash advances.

The USDA has pledged a thorough investigation, but it will have a huge task: 55,000 USDA credit cards are in circulation, including 1,549 held by people no longer employed by the agency.

Waste also permeates the student loan program. In 2002, the Department of Education certified the Y’Hica Institute’s participation in the federal student loan program and disbursed $55,000 in loans to three of the school’s student loan applicants.

One problem: Neither the Y’Hica Institute nor the three students who received the $55,000 existed. Congressional investigators created them (on paper) to test the Department of Education’s verification pro­cedures. All of the documents were faked, right down to naming one of the fictional loan student applicants “Susan M. Collins,” after the senator requesting the investigation. Is it any wonder that $22 billion worth of student loans remain in default?

From the Redundancy Department of Redundancy: Washington runs 342 economic development programs, 130 programs serving the disabled, 130 programs serving at-risk youth, 90 early childhood development programs and 72 safe-water programs. This means not only additional bureaucracies to run these overlapping programs, but also an administrative nightmare for program beneficiaries who must navigate each program’s distinct rules and requirements.

Among the many examples: The Army Corps of Engineers is alleged to have purposely rigged dozens of scientific studies in order to justify expensive (but unnecessary) water projects. The federal government loses $20 billion annually by accidentally overpaying the recipients of government programs.

Just a few examples to remember the next time lawmakers claim there is no room to restrain spending.



Suppose there were a law that forced you to pay a government agency for apples you were supposed to feed your children.

The government didn't care if you grew your own apples or if your neighbor grew apples you liked better than the government's brand -- the law compelled you to pay for the state's product whether you wanted it for your children or not.

Children sit in their classroom on their first day of school for six months since teachers went on strike over pay sparking a conflict which turned into a major social crisis in Oaxaca's capital November 16, 2006 REUTERS/Stringer (MEXICO)

Now, suppose many people who actually fed their children public apples discovered something wrong with them. Some apples were bitter, others mushy and others rotten to the core.

When they complained to the public-apple agencies, agency bureaucrats and their union would say: "Excuse me, the bad apples are not our fault. You need to give us more money so we can build better apple storage facilities, and so we can pay better wages to apple handlers."

So the government forced everybody to pay more for its apples.

Now, the public-apple agencies built beautiful new apple storage facilities. They paid their apple handlers handsomely. Still, a disturbing number of apples remained bitter, mushy or rotten to the core.

In the face of new complaints, the bureaucrats and their union declared, "We need a federal Department of Apples."

Conservatives fruitlessly argued that the Constitution does not authorize a federal Department of Apples. Congress created one anyway. The new DOA spent vast sums paying its own bureaucrats and subsidizing local government apple agencies. Still, many public apples remained bitter, mushy or rotten to the core.

A "compassionate conservative" -- N.B. a "big government conservative" -- was elected president. He advocated giving even more federal aid to local public-apple agencies in exchange for a federal "apple accountability" program. Under the program, states were required to test their apples every year, with the goal that after 13 years every public apple would be good enough to eat.

After several years, the tests showed almost no improvement in public apples. Apple agency bureaucrats and their union representatives complained that the apple-accountability standards were unrealistic. So the secretary of apples relaxed the standards, and the compassionate conservative president called on Congress to reauthorize the program.

The public apple in this parable, of course, is public education -- which is indeed rotten in many places.

If there is one thing the Department of Education does well, it is collect statistics about schools. According to its National Center for Education Statistics, Americans in recent decades paid for a massive increase in spending on government schools. Between the 1970 and 2002 school years, average per-pupil spending in public elementary and secondary schools rose 111 percent, from $4,170 (in constant 2001-2002 dollars) to $8,802.

From just 1990 to 2003, average per-pupil spending increased 25 percent, from $7,692 (in constant 2003-2004 dollars) to 9,644.

This big run-up in spending did not cause a big run-up in student performance.

Since the early 1990s, NCES has periodically administered National Assessment of Educational Progress tests to a sampling of elementary school students. The tests are graded on a scale of zero to 500, and students are anonymously assigned an achievement level of "below basic," "basic," "proficient" or "advanced." "Basic" means the student had only a "partial mastery" of the subject appropriate for the grade level.

NAEP reading scores for eighth-grade public school students remained essentially static between 1998 and 2005. In 1998, eighth-graders averaged a score of 261 out of 500 in reading. In 2005, they averaged 260. Only 29 percent were rated grade-level "proficient" or better.

In other words, 71 percent rated less than proficient in reading.

Math results were a little better. Between 1990 and 2005, the average eighth-grade score rose from 262 to 278. Again, only 29 percent were rated grade-level proficient or better.

In other words, 71 percent rated less than proficient in math.

Private schools did better. The 2005 NAEP tests rated students in Catholic and Lutheran schools. Forty-nine percent of eighth-graders in both rated "proficient" or better in reading. Forty-four percent of eighth-graders in Lutheran schools, and 40 percent in Catholic schools, rated "proficient" or better in math.

Increasing per pupil spending by another 111 percent -- whether it is done by compassionate conservatives in Washington, D.C., or plain old liberals in your home state -- will not fix public schools.

It's time to give all American parents vouchers equal to the per-pupil spending in local government schools. Then parents can decide whether the government schools deserve their children -- or whether they will try the apples elsewhere, thank you.



Technology Has Made Our Public Schools Less Efficient

Written By: Frederick M. Hess
Published In: IT&T News
Publication Date: August 1, 2006
Publisher: The Heartland Institute


Michigan education officials are championing a new regulation that would require every high school student’s education to include a substantial “online experience” of some kind, with the assumption being most students would complete an online class.

To fulfill this vague new mandate, district technology officials in Detroit and elsewhere argue extensive, unspecified expenditures will be necessary. This proposal is drawing national attention as visionary, though it is more remarkable for the manner in which it neatly illustrates the problems with how we think about technology and schooling.

Absent in Michigan, and often elsewhere, is serious thought about how technology might help cut costs or modernize educational delivery. The Michigan Department of Education’s chief academic officer explains the idea’s genesis in the same vague manner that a sophomore might describe a class project: “We thought of this as a skill that people would need to have to continue to be lifelong learners.” The Michigan proposal finds a way to turn the sensible adoption of new technology into a boondoggle that promises to expand bureaucracy, increase costs, and turn a blind eye to pursuing new efficiencies.

Even as public schools have made ever-larger investments in new technologies, they have steadily added to the ranks of teachers and staff. Spending on technology in public schools increased from essentially zero in 1970 to more than $100 per student in 2004, according to Education Week, a leading publication for teachers and school administrators. In the past five years alone, the nation has spent more than $20 billion linking schools and classrooms to the Internet through the federal E-Rate program. Between 1997 and 2004, the federal government appropriated more than $4 billion to help states purchase educational technology.

Meanwhile, these huge new investments in technology were coupled with a massive increase in the teacher workforce that drove the student-teacher ratio from 22 students per teacher in 1970 to 16 per teacher in 2001. There is no reputable analysis suggesting that the billions invested in technology have enhanced the productivity or performance of America’s schools.

Spending Without Re-Engineering

This state of affairs contrasts sharply with how technology is used by enterprises that face meaningful competition from alternative manufacturers and service providers. For these businesses, technology is not an end--it is a tool for self-improvement. New technologies are adopted when they enable workers to tackle new problems or do the same things cheaper and more efficiently.

Even the oft-maligned U.S. Postal Service understands this. It found ways to trim its workforce by more than 40,000 in the past four years when sufficiently squeezed by competitors such as UPS and Federal Express. The Postal Service substituted technology as it identified routine tasks where automation was cheaper and more efficient than human labor.

Why do inviolable laws about the productive benefits of technology seem to stop at the schoolhouse door? Organizations like the Postal Service make effective use of technology because they must keep up with the competition. Knowing their competitors are constantly seeking ways to boost productivity, hold down costs, and develop new products, for-profit enterprises are always on the lookout for similar advantages. It’s not that any executive likes painful measures such as downsizing; they take these steps because survival requires it.

Hostility to Real Benefits

Insulated from such pressures, school boards and superintendents have little incentive to view technology as a tool for trimming jobs or rethinking educational delivery--especially given union hostility and public skepticism. Meanwhile, existing collective-bargaining agreements between school districts and employees have made using technology to displace workers or reinvent processes extraordinarily difficult.

If anything, there is a bias in education against ideas deemed too “businesslike.” Indeed, the very words “efficiency” and “cost-effectiveness” can set the teeth of parents and educators on edge. Proposals to use technology to downsize the workforce, alter instructional delivery, or improve managerial efficiency are inevitably attacked by education authorities like the wildly influential Henry Giroux, a professor at Canada’s McMaster University, as part of an effort to “transform public education ... [in order] to expand the profits of investors, educate students as consumers, and train young people for the low-paying jobs of the new global marketplace.”

Ultimately, if leaders lack the incentives to pursue new efficiencies, they won’t. So long as technology serves as an easy applause line and an excuse to demand ever more school spending, rather than an opportunity to re-engineer educational delivery, America’s schools will remain ill-equipped for the rigors of the twenty-first century. Michigan’s bad idea is evidence of that



The General Services Administration, the chief procurement agency for the entire federal government, charges "middle-man" fees of almost $20 billion to purchase $66 billion worth of goods and services for the government. That equals a "middle-man" fee of nearly 30% , even though the private sectore usually charges less than 5% for the same services. By reducing these unnecessary middle-man fees to levels seen in the private sectore, savings of nearly $16 billion could be realized in the first year alone.


1)  Eliminate wasteful and/or duplicate programs.  CAGW's annual publication Prime Cuts catalogued over 543 recommendations that would save taxpayers $159 billion in fiscal 2002  (creating a surplus) and $1.27 trillion over the next five years.  Examples include reforming milk orders (saving $669 million over five years) and eliminating the Advanced Technology Program (saving $480 million over five years). The programs featured in Prime Cuts serve concentrated interests at the expense of the general population and are full of abuse, fraud, and mismanagement.

2)  Cut the pork.  Pork-barrel giveaways surpassed $20 billion this year, including $2 million to refurbish the Vulcan Statue in Birmingham, Ala; $190,000 for the Motor Racing Museum of the South; and $273,000 for educational training in combating "Goth" culture in Blue Springs, Missouri.

3)  Eliminate corporate welfare.  President Bush recently signed a $190 billion farm bill that increases farm subsides by 65 percent over the next ten years.  Most of this goes to established agribusinesses, not to family farms.  Cutting all programs such as the steel industry subsidies, the Economic Development Administration, and the Export-Import Bank would save taxpayers about $80 billion annually.

4)  End improper payments.  The government annually writes at least $20 billion in checks to the deceased or imprisoned, and provides benefits for others who game and cheat the system.  For example, Medicare lost about $12 billion this way last year.  Worse, there are few mechanisms for recouping lost funds, even though private companies exist that would do it for a fraction of the returned revenue.

"As you can see, there is plenty lawmakers can do to reverse the rising deficit," concluded Schatz.  "Instead of punishing average citizens by raising taxes or adding to the national debt, politicians should give up their addiction to frivolous spending and political favoritism." 

Citizens Against Government Waste is the nation's largest nonpartisan, nonprofit organization dedicated to eliminating waste, fraud, abuse, and mismanagement in government.



Following the spending on programs purportedly designed to make our commercial aviation system secure, one is startled by two facts:

  1. The staggering amount of money that has been spent to rebuild the nation’s aviation security program after 9/11; and,
  2. How the enormous expenditures made in the attempt to hire effective federal workers to replace existing ineffective private sector workers, and to install new electronic equipment to protect the system from on-board weapons and explosives has failed to accomplish either.

It was saddening if not surprising to read in the Washington Post on May 22nd, that the major purposes for establishing the Transportation Security Administration: effective screening equipment and skilled screeners to use it have not yet been achieved. But then we have known that ever since the GAO and various Inspectors General started reporting on the progress and effectiveness of the TSA in implementing the goals of the Aviation and Transportation Security Act. All of the news is not bad however, it was refreshing to read that the former Inspector General of the Department of Homeland Security, Clark Kent Ervin, repeatedly warned the agency’s Secretary, Tom Ridge that its goals were not being met; and in the face of internal criticism for doing that for which he was being paid, Ervin continued to warn the Congress and the American people of the seriousness of the problem.

It might be argued that in their haste to establish a line of defensive actions against terrorism at home, the DHS and TSA reached out to the nation’s biggest and most expensive contractors with blank checks in hand, offering to have them put in place the best security that money could buy immediately if not sooner. It could also be argued I suppose, that their errors in putting limitless faith in companies like Lockheed Martin, Boeing, Unisys and General Dynamics were understandable in the face of danger so potentially lethal that the very future of an America as we know it was at stake, and only America’s most experienced and resourceful corporate giants could do the job of protecting us. But the future of America is not a football game in which a "hail Mary" pass is allowable, and our elected leaders are supposed to lead, particularly in times of peril and with more than promises, slogans and calls to rally around the flag. After almost four years of constant and repeated warnings from men and women who have served this country in roles that made them truly expert on questions of security for our aviation system and the other homeland security issues, their counsel was discounted in favor of the wishful thinking that with enough money we could buy something to solve our problems even without testing it first.

Attributing bad decisions possibly motivated by considerations that I will not speculate on, to meeting unrealistic congressionally imposed deadlines to hire, install and implement voodoo security for the nation’s airports lacks credibility given the magnitude of the danger we faced and continue to face from terrorism. From the outset of the project to locate, recruit, test, investigate, hire, train, outfit and assign the originally planned upon force of some fifty thousand screeners for our 429 commercial airports, the fledgling TSA awarded contracts without giving much thought to exactly whom they wanted to hire, how to recruit them, what it would take to train them, and what existing organizations, including the FAA academy for screeners, might be best to oversee the responsibility. When reports came back from some cities of insufficient interest in the screening jobs; of trainers sitting idle with nobody to train; and of some trainers working overtime at premium pay at other locations, nobody in authority wanted to hear it. The entire inflated process was failing to provide men and women with the skills and training necessary to protect airliners from sophisticated terrorists while fully trained former law enforcement and military personnel willing to serve were not recruited.

We did not fair any better at installing equipment to screen either carry-on or checked baggage. Despite the years of repeated problems and disappointments over the failure of our behemoth, over priced and unwanted EDS equipment to find even make-believe explosives, TSA set out with a determination to jam equipment stored in warehouses long before 9/11 by airports that considered them more trouble than they were worth into airports that still didn’t want them. Sadly, the fact that neither Congress nor the White House offered any direction to an inexperienced TSA for dealing with theses problems demonstrates that there were more than enough blinders to go around.

While we struggle to explain why waste and abuse by government characterizes the failed attempt to secure the commercial aviation industry, we must not be too willing to blame those failures on a lack of time. This is not the first time America has been asked, on short notice, to quickly replace an inadequate and archaic national defense with effective new systems. Compared with the need to create an armed force capable of fighting a two front war, rebuild a naval armada, develop an effective intelligence community and establish a national defense industry, as was asked of our parents and grandparents more than sixty years ago, hiring and training fifty thousand competent workers and supplying them with equipment capable of identifying weapons and explosives in four years time doesn’t seem to be a harrowing task. When faced with a crisis the one commodity always in short supply is time. It was not a lack of time that caused waste and abuse; it was a lack of knowledge for some decision makers and a lack of dedication for others. The proof is that almost four years later the same decision makers make the same bad choices knowing that their choices are bad. The argument made by government officials today for purchasing equipment that doesn’t perform the task for which it was purchased is that it was all that was available. Such decisions are the equivalent of purchasing unpacked parachutes for airborne troops because no silk was available. Knowingly providing inadequate security is negligence for which lack of time should not be accepted as a defense.

Since at least 1988 when terrorists destroyed Pan Am 103 in flight over Scotland, we have known that terrorists could take down an airliner by placing explosives on board because they did so. Since at least the early 1960’s, we have known that armed hijackers could commandeer a commercial aircraft because they did so with impunity, sometimes targeting multiple airplanes in a single day. And while we continued to fail to provide reasonable security against such acts, we never suggested that our failure was due to insufficient time. Then as now, it was a lack of will by those in charge to change the status quo that kept business functioning as usual despite the recognized foreseeable risks.

The sky marshals that were rushed into service in the 60’s and 70’s all but disappeared as the twenty-first century rolled around despite awareness of growing threats against aviation. The EDS equipment ushered in with great fanfare in the 1990’s was allowed to sit unused in terminals and in storage facilities as though airliner bombings had never been heard of with nothing of substance being accomplished to improve the performance and design of the equipment. The airlines and airports required by federal mandate to provide trained manpower to screen passengers, baggage and cargo looked upon that responsibility as a low priority, and the performance of those they selected was proof of it.

No amount of terrorism directed at America at home or abroad or the passage of any amount of time motivated government to take on the job of defending commercial aviation in earnest prior to 9/11. Unless we start now making security decisions based upon sound security principles established by professionals who reasonably understand the concept of reasonably foreseeable risks and what can realistically be done about them, the security decisions we make will continue to be inadequate and susceptible to abuse. There will never be enough time to put in place a successful aviation security program without skilled, trained and experienced leaders at the helm of it. With the right management, the job of effectively responding to the security needs of commercial aviation can begin to experience real progress in less time than we imagine.

At a time when we are sending our best and brightest in harms way around the world, to fight against banditry, genocide, rape, murder and religious bigotry, the characteristics of the often ill-defined enemy that continues to return them maimed or worse, we should not give a pass to civilians who when entrusted with the responsibility of defending the homeland whine about how they couldn’t perform because they were asked to do so under pressure. Some of us would like to believe that before we send our kids and their parents too into the heat of combat, those who send them would be willing to take the heat for their failures to fight the war at home under much more favorable circumstances. For those who stood by in government agencies, in the halls of Congress or in the White House while contractors tripped over themselves rushing in with high priced "solutions" that all knew didn’t work, please don’t further disgrace us with lame excuses. For contractors who took their piece off the top and then passed on the responsibilities they agreed to accept to sub-contractors often created overnight, remember: "It ain’t over until the fat lady sings."

The Washington Post has done a service to the nation by pointing out the abysmal failures of our homeland security program in general and aviation security in particular. They are also to be commended for spotlighting the important role played by the nation’s inspectors general in our federal agencies. I now look forward to the second of their two articles on this topic. I would like to believe that time constraints were indeed the reason for the failure to give the nation the level of security that we have paid for because lack of character in things political we have sadly come to understand; but I suspect the explanation requires more digging.



Wasteful Spending within the United States Pork Barrel Funding: The 2006 Pig Book identified 9,963 projects in the 11 appropriations bills that constitute the discretionary portion of the federal budget for fiscal 2006, costing taxpayers $29 billion! 06 $8 million for alligator farming$25 million for building a sugar cane research lab  This year’s list includes: $13,500,000 for the International Fund for Ireland, which helped finance the World Toilet Summit.$6,435,000 for wood utilization research$1,000,000 for the Water-free Urinal Conservation Initiative$500,000 for the Sparta Teapot Museum in Sparta Over the last four years, federal spending has increased from $16,000 per household to $20,000 per household, the highest level since World War II.The number of pork projects skyrocketed from under 2,000 five years ago to 9,362 in the 2003 budget. Total spending on pork projects has correspondingly increased to over $23 billion. NASA´s annual budget is a little over 3 times larger than the NSF´s, but as this report shows, NASA engages in nearly 9 times as much pork barrel spending. *A single (wasteful) space shuttle mission costs over half a billion dollars even as the Russians can launch humans into space and back for $20 million, as space tourists like Dennis Tito have already demonstrated; $2,500,000 for the Hubble telescope project to initiate a Composites Technology Institute in Bridgeport, WV; $3,000,000 to enhance the University of South Mississippi's research capability in the use of remotely senseddata for coastal zone management; $1,000,000 for a carbon cycle remote sensing technology program for the KARS Regional Earth Sciences Applications Center at the University of Kansas; $1,500,000 for the University of North Dakota to support the Upper Midwest Aerospace Consortium; $1,500,000 for the topographic sensor measurement efforts in Alaska; $3,500,000 for a center on life in extreme thermal environments at Montana State University in Bozeman; $10,000,000 for a Propulsion Research Laboratory to be located at Marshall Space Flight Center; $2,000,000 for Montana State University in Bozeman to carry out research into advanced hardware and software technologies for the development of advanced optoelectronic materials; $3,000,000 for the NASA International Earth Observing System Natural Resource Training Center at the University of Montana, Missoula; $2,000,000 for the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee to implement the Wisconsin Initiative for Math, Science, and Technology initiative; $2,500,000 for the Jason Foundation for the development of an education program for school children; $2,500,000 for the Bishop Museum/Mauna Kea Astronomy Education Center; $1,000,000 for the implementation of the statewide learning program for the Challenger Learning Center in Kenai, Alaska; $1,000,000 for the University of Akron for nanotechnology research; $1,000,000 for a NASA Center of Excellence in Mathematics, Science, and Technology at Texas College in Tyler, Texas; $1,000,000 for the Pipelines Project at Iowa State University/Southern University-Baton Rouge; $1,000,000 for the ongoing aerospace projects at MSE Technology Applications in Butte, Montana; $250,000 for the Oklahoma Space and Aeronautics Commission for sounding rockets for the Oklahoma Space and Technology Applied Research program; $1,000,000 for the Chabot Observatory and Science Center, Oakland, CA; $1,000,000 for Montana State University for the techlink program; $3,000,000 is provided to the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center's Modern Genetic's project to permit studies that simulate specialized weather conditions, pathogen attacks, and development and characterization on genetically modified plants in controlled-environment chambers; $4,000,000 for the Green Bank Radio Astronomy Observatory; $2,000,000 for equipment for the South Carolina State Museum's Observatory, Planetarium and Theater; $8,000,000 for the University of Hawaii for infrastructure needs of the Mauna Kea Education Center; $15,000,000 for infrastructure needs for the Life Sciences building at the University of Missouri-Columbia; $2,000,000 for the Lewis and Clark Rediscovery Web Technology Project which will provide K-12 and university level teachers internet and interactive web teaching technologies through a partnership between the University of Idaho, Wheeling Jesuit College and the University of Montana; $18,000,000 for E-Complex upgrades and relocation of Government equipment at Stennis Space Center to accommodate growth in large, medium and small-scale liquid propulsion testing as part of the Space Launch Initiative; $10,500,000 to cover a new Propulsion Test Operations Building for upgrades to the East/West access road at Stennis; $1,500,000 for Ohio Wesleyan University for infrastructure needs; $1,500,000 for the Center for Space Sciences at Texas Tech University, Lubbock, Texas; $5,000,000 for the Space Radiation program at Loma Linda University Hospital; $1,000,000 to EARTH University and the University of Alabama in Birmingham to research Chagas disease; $500,000 for the operations of the applications center for remote sensing at Fulton-Montgomery Community College, Johnston, New York; $1,000,000 for the Center for Earth Observing and Space Research at George Mason University; $450,000 for continuation of application remote sensing to forestry at the State University of New York, College of Environmental Sciences and Forestry; $3,000,000 for the NASA-Illinois Technology Commercialization Center at DuPage Country Research Park; $3,000,000 for the University of New Orleans Composites Research Center for Excellence at Michoud, Louisiana; $6,000,000 to expand the Space Alliance Technology Outreach Program in the states of Florida, New Mexico, New York, and Texas; $1,000,000 for the remote sensing SAID research program at Syracuse University; $1,000,000 for the Center for Emerging Technologies at Stony Brook, State University of New York; $1,000,000 for the Garrett Morgan Commercialization Initiative in Ohio; $3,000,000 for continued academic and infrastructure needs related to computer sciences, mathematics and physics building at the University of Redlands, Redlands, California; $1,000,000 for equipment needs at the University of San Diego Science and Education Outreach Center; $500,000 for Science, Engineering, Math, and Aerospace Academy programs at Central Arizona College; $1,000,000 for the Science Facilities Initiative at Heidelberg College in Ohio; $1,500,000 for the Santa Ana College Space Education Center in California; $500,000 for a hands-on interactive science education facility at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill; $1,000,000 for the Science Learning Center in Hammond, Indiana; and $1,000,000 for the Environmental Sciences Learning Center (part of the California Science Center) in Los Angeles, California;                                                                                                               Total Cost: $140,200,000With an annual budget that is a little over 3 times larger than the NSF´s, how can NASA justify engaging in nearly 9 times as much pork barrel spending?   Is this a good use of our tax-dollars? 

$16 million for New England fisheries;

$10 million for Agricultural Research Service projects

Including $4.5 million for animal pathogens

$500,000 each for plant pathogens and Newcastle disease

5 million to drill five wells in Santa Fe, New Mexico;

$5 million to subsidize farmers' markets and roadside produce stands in 31 states

$2.5 million to conduct coral reef mapping in Hawaii;

$2 million for the Smithsonian's National Worm Collection 336.html

 A recent audit revealed military personnel used their government-funded travel cards to charge more than $293,000 for entertainment events, gambling, cruises, strip clubs and prostitutes.


A report released on Friday detailed the latest federal government misspending. Among other things, the report shows that over the last fiscal year, more than $132, 000 was spent on golf balls with another $14, 500 on golf tees.


$10, 000 to compensate an employee for "hurt feelings


$34, 830 for the late cancellation of a conference


$520 on 45 clothes hangers


$5, 479 by Canadian Heritage for alcohol


"There has been the billion dollar HRDC scandal, the $2 billion gun registry, and now these examples of federal waste. When money is desperately needed for health care, agriculture, job training and the military, the Liberals spend money on things like golf balls and alcohol," Mark concluded.


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