Thursday, August 22, 2019

Federal Fumbles - 4th Edition

Oklahoma Senator James Lankford has released the fourth volume in his Federal Fumbles series which focus on Government waste. This edition however focuses more on examples of Government policy that prevents the Government from working for the taxpayer - or, in the case of the longest shutdown in American history, working at all - than it does on examples of wasteful Government spending.

Here are just a few examples wasteful spending chronicled in the book:

  • $50 thousand to a professor to study the Russian wine industry
  • $725 thousand to teach kids how to play mariachi instruments
  • $1.7 million to the City of Los Angeles for a series on "Craft in America" featuring Christmas decorations at the largest privately owned home in the US.
  • $8.8 billion designated for telecommunication infrastructure in poorly connected, mostly rural areas that were instead, used to add 'features' to already existing infrastructure.

One area that should be of interest to Government contractors is the Government hiring process. This impacts many agencies that contractors interact with including contract procurement, administration, and oversight. According to the study, it takes an average of 106 days to hire a federal employee. This, of course, makes it difficult to attract, recruit, and hire the necessary talent for agencies to perform its mission. Most qualified candidates are not going to wait around four months without a paycheck. They'll find someplace else to work. By comparison, the average length of time it takes to hire 'professionals' in the private sector is just 23 days.

Here's an example that should put one particular contractor to shame. The VA (Veterans Administration) paid a contractor $30 million for IT upgrades that ultimately failed to solve whatever problem it was designed to cure. The upgrade failed but the contractor netted a tidy profit on the work.

Although significantly fewer regulations are being issued now than under previous administrations, the Federal Register is still 61,000 confusing pages. One recent Interior Department regulation took 2,500 words to say that the federal law for hinting on national park land in Alaska should be the same as the current State law.

You can read this latest edition of Federal Fumbles as well as the three previous editions here.

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