Tuesday, December 3, 2019

Federal Fumbles - 5th Edition

Oklahoma Senator James Lankkford has released the fifth volume in his Federal Fumbles series. These publications report on specific examples of wasteful federal spending and regulations that lead to wasteful spending.

This particular edition gives a lot of coverage to the "broken budget process" and the need to end Government shutdowns once and for all. That would be a goal that any Government contractor can endorse as Government shutdowns and the threat of shutdowns play havoc with the orderly conduct of contract performance.

Not every example in Volume 5 is related to wasteful contract spending. A lot of it relates to grants for questionable research (like $1.7 million to Russia to study the Steller seal lion in Russia or $114 thousand to study corporations that existed in Russia prior to the 1917 revolution). Some of the identified waste is not exactly spending but tax loopholes where the alcohol industry, racehorses, movies, and NASCAR have tax breaks written into the tax code. And then there's the Puerto Rican death scam where beneficiaries of social security recipients keep receiving social security payments after the recipient has died because Puerto Rico will not share death information with the Social Security Administration.

On the contracting side of wasteful spending, the report identifies a number of issues related to the Government's propensity to buy COTS (commercial off-the-shelf) items. In a number of cases COTS are lower priced but also lower quality and not equipped to do their intended jobs. The report sites one example where NSSA (National Nuclear Security Agency) purchased $5 capacitors for its nuclear weapon modernization program before finding they didn't meed quality control standards. The fix? Replacing the $5 capacitor in 370 nuclear weapons at a cost of $725 million. Also cited in the report is the Air Force expenditures related to keeping decades-old aircraft flying. Many parts are not longer in production so the Air Force needed to re-engineer those parts at significant cost.

FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency) gets special coverage for its "promptness over integrity" behavior. Just because FEMA is efficient in getting money out the door in the aftermath of disasters, doesn't mean that the money is being spent efficiently, effectively, or economically. This report recommends more training be given to FEMA employees on ways to detect fraud, wast, abuse, and how to reduce improper payments.

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

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