Welcome to Wasteland

A place to highlight the absurd, the inefficient, and WASTE in the federal government.

PMR

The Ex-Im Bank Episode

The Office of Inspector General  for the Export-Import Bank recently released an audit of the Bank’s contracting processes.

One item stood out. The lease of a luxury vehicle costing $75,622 for the head of the agency and agency staff to go to and fro about town.

Minus a near $10,000 down-payment, the 5-year lease cost $1,131.61 per month.

Yet, GSA’s monthly leasing rate for typical vehicles ranges from $160 to $376. Hmmmm?

So we were curious why a luxury vehicle was “essential” to the Bank’s mission.  Turns out though, that justification was missing from the file.

Having already held three hearings on waste, fraud and abuse at Ex-Im, inquiring minds wanted to know more, so the committee sent a letter to Ex-Im asking for additional info.

Chairman Hochberg reported the vehicle in question was a 2014 Cadillac XTS. Fancy. And quite an upgrade from the Bank’s previous vehicle –  a 2011 Mercury Marquis.

Cadillac

Since the IG report and our letter, the lease was terminated and the vehicle is not being replaced.

Seems it wasn’t so “essential” after all.

OUR RECOMMENDATION: Be frugal, not fancy. Use the negotiated GSA schedules to get the best value for the Government.

WASTE RATING:

4 cans

Never-Ending TSA Airport Screening Lines

Major airports are bracing for a record number of passengers this summer.

And TSA isn’t ready.

Why not, you ask? Here’s just a few reasons:

  • TSA is losing screeners through attrition faster than they can hire and train new screeners. In 2014, TSA lost 4,644 employees while only hiring 373 individuals.
  • TSA failed to enroll as many people into PreCheck as originally predicted. High estimates suggest 9.3 million enrolled, a far cry from the 25 million goal.
  • TSA failed to anticipate the number of people who would travel this year, despite having data available that indicates a 12% increase in passengers every year since 2011.

What does this all mean for the American people?

Long wait times. Technical difficulties. Time and money wasted for travelers, airlines and business generally.

Here’s a look at TSA’s top 5 blunders…in this month alone!

1.      Chicago O’Hare: 450 passengers were provided cots after missing their flights due to outrageously long waits in the TSA screening lines.

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2.      Sky Harbor:  More than 3,000 bags missed their flights after technical issues with computer servers prevented TSA from using the machines to screen luggage. 

3.      Ketchikan International: Travelers waited a minimum of three hours in the TSA line due to technical difficulties with the x-ray scanners, forcing TSA personnel to check each passenger’s bags by hand.

4.      Dallas Fort-Worth: American Airlines had to delay five flights as hundreds of their passengers waited several hours in the TSA lines.

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5.      Denver International: Airport officials warned travelers to arrive three hours before their flights, due to wait times exceeding 2 hours.

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OUR RECOMMENDATION TO TSA: Identify a solution to combat high attrition rates so travelers can see more than just the airport on their next vacation.  

WASTE RATING:

7 cans

HHS is now number two in the country… at burying Americans under piles of paperwork

In the last decade, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has loaded piles of paperwork on the American people. Thanks in part to new Obamacare regulations, data from the American Action Forum (AAF) places HHS in second place, right behind the Internal Revenue Service, as the most-burdensome federal regulator. 

So what inevitably comes with overregulation? That’s right, paperwork. 

HHS imposed an all-time high of 700 million hours of paperwork on individuals like doctors, patients, and small business owners across the country. 

The House Small Business Committee reports small businesses are devoting precious resources to cutting through federal red tape to the tune of $11,000 per employee. 

Let’s hear that again; 700 million hours… $11,000 per employee. We’ll help you with the math.

All this regulation from HHS adds up to more than $53 billion in costs since 2009 according to AAF’s data.

And it would take 354,500 employees working full-time in the private sector to complete a year of HHS’ imposed paperwork.

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Exactly. Nobody has time for that.   

And while excessive paperwork may have Dunder Mifflin like… 

0505 Office

 The American people are feeling like this… 

0505 paperwork

OUR RECOMMENDATION: Cut red tape and stop wasting taxpayers’ and small businesses’ time and money with burdensome paperwork.

WASTE RATING:

8 cans

Administrative Leave Abuse

Administrative leave is designed as temporary leave from a job with pay and benefits intact. In the federal government, temporary has taken on new meaning.

A 2014 Government Accountability Office report found that 57,000 federal employees charged between one month and three years of administrative leave between 2011-2013.

This means 57,000 employees did not go to work for at least a month, yet were paid their full salary.

Some of these employees collected their paycheck despite being placed on administrative leave for misconduct.

This includes:

  •  a DHS employee on leave for more than three years who collected an estimated $455,000 in salary and benefits while under investigation for “criminal and administrative misconduct;”
  • an EPA employee who was on administrative leave for seven months after being arrested on drug possession;
  • another EPA employee who was known to watch pornography from his work computer was on administrative leave for a full year;
  • a VA employee suspended after the wait time scandal who was placed on administrative leave in 2014 and may still be on leave today.

Taxpayers should not be asked to compensate individuals under investigation for misconduct to sit at home indefinitely.

OUR RECOMMENDATION:  Pass HR 4359, the Administrative Leave Reform Act which limits administrative leave to 14 days for reasons relating to misconduct or poor performance.

WASTE RATING: 

7 cans

The Untouchable Civil Servants

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As of 2014, federal employees owed more than $1 Billion in taxes to the IRS.

113,805 feds are delinquent, with an average unpaid tax bill of $10,031 each. That’s a lot of cash the IRS is not collecting.

If the IRS could get after Al Capone for tax evasion, surely they can hold the federal workforce accountable.

OUR RECOMMENDATION: Pay your taxes or lose your job.

Waste rating:

9 cans

The IRS Gets Danny Oceaned

Oceans-Eleven

What’s more lucrative than robbing three Las Vegas casinos? Hacking the IRS.

In a grand heist last year, hackers infiltrated 700,000 taxpayer accounts. And this year, its new identity protection tool was suspended when it too was cracked by hackers.

Unidentified criminals potentially gained access to Social Security numbers, birth dates, street addresses and other personal information.

Such breaches will likely only add to the $3.1 billion the agency reported paying out in 2014 on fraudulent returns from identity theft.

OUR RECOMMENDATION: With the stakes this high, the IRS needs to take cybersecurity more seriously. To avoid a sequel, implementing multi-factor authentication should be a top priority.

WASTE RATING:

10 small cans

P.S. The agency’s efforts to improve authentication aren’t off to a good start.  GAO’s sixth annual Duplication Report reveals the IRS hasn’t indicated it will conduct any form of cost, benefit, and risk analysis to ensure efficiencies are in place.

To the left, to the left…

 

BeyonceSOURCE: Giphy

TSA spent $336,414 for the development of mobile apps, including nearly $50,000 for an app that randomly points left or right.

TSA’s “Randomizer” is an app used on a tablet to randomly direct passengers left or right as they approach the security line.

Yep, it’s that simple. Left or right.  

Don’t believe us? Well, here’s a demo of this innovative app:

Experts say creating a randomizer is one of the most basic exercises in computer science 101 and takes roughly 10 minutes. See for yourself:

So, did the investment pay off? Nope. This TSA program shut down in 2015, just one year after the app debuted.

OUR RECOMMENDATION: TSA should have swiped left on this app. 

WASTE RATING: 

3 cans

 

Failure to Launch … The Global Discovery aircraft.

The Drug Enforcement Administration and the Department of Defense collectively spent more than $86 million to purchase and modify an aircraft with advanced surveillance equipment for combat operations in Afghanistan.

So where’s the plane flying now? After 7 years and millions of wasted taxpayer dollars, the plane sits in Delaware, inoperable, resting on jacks.  It missed every intended delivery date, is not yet complete, and is no longer intended to fly in Afghanistan. 

The Department of Justice Office of the Inspector General recently issued an audit report with detailed findings and recommendations regarding the aircraft.

Plane

OUR RECOMMENDATION: Keep the costs grounded, not the plane.

WASTE RATING:

9-cans

Who you gonna call?……the amtrak swat vehicle?

Amtrak’s passenger rail service is subsidized with more than $1 billion from the American taxpayer. Where’s the money going? We have an idea. 

In 2012, Amtrak purchased a new $120,000 SWAT vehicle to add to its existing fleet of  – wait for it – three SWAT vehicles and a police command bus. Confused as to why Amtrak needs SWAT vehicles? We were too. So we asked Amtrak for more information during a recent hearing chaired by Transportation and Public Assets Subcommittee Chairman John Mica (R-FL). Amtrak didn’t say much to ease our concerns. To make matters worse, fuel consumption records from 2014  to present show only $52.00 worth of fuel used in this vehicle. What does that mean? Either the vehicle runs on free fuel, or it’s not being used. 

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OUR RECOMMENDATION: Leave SWAT responsibilities to law enforcement and use taxpayer funds to improve rails.

waste Rating:

6