When You Just Won’t Take it Anymore

October/01/2015 5:28AM
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What is the collective level for incompetence in government? Does it matter if you are Democrat, Republican, Independent, or Libertarian, there must be a limit? All of my life there have been those who spoke out about government waste. There was  Senator William Proxmire from Wisconsin and his Golden Fleece Awards. He introduced these in March, 1975 for spending $84,000 to find out why people fall in love. Rand Paul made a big speech on the floor of the Senate outlining waste. Here’s what he said: “$300,000 last year studying whether or not Japanese quail are more sexually promiscuous on cocaine. These things should never have money spent on but if you do a continuing resolution it will continue. We spent several hundred thousand dollars studying whether or not we can relieve stress in Vietnamese villagers by having them watch television reruns. I don’t know about you but I don’t want one penny of these dollars going to this ridiculous stuff.”

Meanwhile, while old Rand was making yet another speech about how he would eliminate waste, the inspector general for the Department of Health and Human Services was issuing a report regarding ambulance scams against Medicare. The gist of the report was about $30 million in claims where no patient was identified. Empty ambulances with claims? About 100 mile trips in urban areas where the average nationwide is 10 miles. Finally, the total claims of $5.8 billion paid in 2012 double the amount paid in 2003. And so it goes, and nothing changes.

Here’s another huge problem. DHS planned to build a new headquarters in southeast Washington, D.C.—a decade ago. Construction should have ended by now. But officials are saying the building won’t be ready until 2026.

The new HQ’s cost has swelled from $3 billion to $4.5 billion. That number will likely go up before the project’s scheduled completion 11 years from now.

In 2008, The Washington Post reported that DHS had blown $15 billion on failed contracts during its meager five years in existence. Six years later, nothing has changed. This recent report—really, a script for GAO investigator Dave Maurer’s Sept. 9 testimony to Congress—proves that.

Maurer’s testimony took place before the Cybersecurity, Infrastructure Protection and Security Technologies Subcommittee of the House of Representatives’ Homeland Security Committee and the Research and Technology Subcommittee of the House Science, Space and Technology Committee.

They are just two of the many legislative committees that oversee DHS.

Maurer’s statement details all the problems the GAO uncovered while investigating Homeland Security’s research and development expenditures. No one at DHS is sure how much money the agency spent on R&D, who to ask for budget approval or if anyone is doing the same research. DHS employees can’t even agree on a definition of research and development.

You read that right—the Department of Homeland Security can’t even say for sure what research and development even means.

In one case, the GAO found five different projects in five different offices all trying to develop a way to detect a specific chemical. The groups weren’t talking to each other. They weren’t sharing resources or information. Four of the projects were redundant. And that’s just one example.

What does the taxpayer get in exchange for DHS’ $60-billion annual budget? Failed contracts, redundant research, miserable employees and bureaucratic confusion—all in an agency that’s supposed to help keep America safe

Year after year, election after election, reform is promised and none is received. Don’t you care about no one watching the store? Do you think it can’t be fixed? If someone tries to fix it will they be vilified by the media for cutting essential spending?

Who is the real culprit? The bums we elect? The media that protects spending at every level? A system that runs itself? Corruption at every level? You and me?

It always gets down to you and me, doesn’t it? If we let it happen it will happen regardless of the subject. Half the country wants it to stop and the other half wants more. Hence, Trump and Bernie Sanders. The future of the country might depend on the outcome of this battle.

1985 Pentagon profligacy makes headlines with reports of $640 toilet seats, $660 ashtrays, $7,600 coffee-makers, and $74,000 ladders. “Our attack on waste and fraud in procurement—like discovering that $436 hammer—is going to continue,” Reagan says, “but we must have adequate military appropriations.”

2001 No-bid Pentagon contracts explode after 9/11, jumping from $50 billion in 2001 to $140 billion in 2010.
2001 Halliburton subsidiary KBR takes over a contract to feed soldiers in Iraq. It raises the price of a meal from $3 to $5 while subcontracting the services back to the previous contractor.
2009

F-22s Wikimedia Commons

After safety problems and cost overruns, the Pentagon cancels the F-22 Raptor fighter jet (estimated price tag: $412 million per plane) and puts the money toward buying F-35s.

2010 The Government Accountability Office finds that the Defense Logistics Agency is sitting on $7.1 billion worth of excess spare parts.
2010 An anonymous congressional earmark sets aside $2.5 billion for 10 C-17 aircraft the Air Force says it does not need.
2011 Boeing charges the Army $1,678 apiece for rubber cargo-loading rollers that actually cost $7 each.
2012

One-quarter of the $1.6 trillion being spent on major weapons systems comes from unexpected cost overruns.

2012 The Air Force scraps a new logistics management system that has shown “negligible” results—after spending $1 billion on it.
2012 Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) slams $68 billion in frivolous Pentagon spending: “Using defense dollars to run microbreweries, study Twitter slang, create beef jerky, or examine Star Trek does nothing to defend our nation.”

The Starship Enterprise Paramount
2012 The House oversight committee finds that the Swiss contractor that fed troops in Afghanistan was overpaid by $757 million. The company claims it’s still owed $1 billion.
2013 The military and VA are found to have spent $1.3 billion on a failed health records system for vets. That’s after the Pentagon already spent $2 billion on an unsuccessful upgrade of its electronic medical records system.
2013 The Army announces plans to replace its camouflage pattern, which was introduced in 2004 and cost $5 billion to develop. The new one will cost $4 billion.

US Army uniforms Wikipedia
2013 Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) decries the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter as “one of the great national scandals that we have ever had, as far as the expenditure of taxpayers’ dollars are concerned.”
2013 The Pentagon plans to scrap more than 85,000 tons of equipment in Afghanistan, part of $7 billion worth of gear being left behind as the troops come home.
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