Here's What The Government is Hiding From You
March 10, 2023
Over the decades, nearly every presidential candidate promised that if elected they would run The Most Transparent Administration in History ™.
Today, however, the culture of secrecy is more pervasive than ever before. Basic government operations are hidden. Our government has declared war on transparency and the examples are egregious. (RELATED: ADAM ANDRZEJEWSKI: Here’s What The Southwest Airlines Debacle Reveals About Gov’t Bailouts)
The following are six ridiculous examples of unjustified government secrecy; after reading them, no one could be blamed for concluding government officials have stopped working for the taxpayer and instead begun working to perpetuate their own agendas.
$36 Billion Hidden In The Swamp – As recently as the final year of the Obama administration, the Office of Personnel Management – which oversees most federal employees – was sharing most of the 1.3 million employees on its payroll, exempting just 2,367 names and salaries. That number has skyrocketed to 360,000 employees, representing $36 billion in estimated hidden and unaccounted payroll. The Biden Administration says that sharing the information is an “unwarranted invasion of personal privacy” protected by FOIA exceptions. Just one problem: these are public servants, paid with public tax dollars!
Afghan Withdrawal – The Biden administration claimed the military withdrawal from Afghanistan was the most successful ever. No one believed it. However, just how much military gear was left behind? We quantified $83 billion in equipment and training followed to Afghan security forces over a twenty-year period. Just one Inspector General audit showed $174 million in lost ScanEagle drones alone. However, what is the price tag on all that’s been abandoned? The Department of Defense should open the books and let taxpayers follow the money, and equipment.
The Return of Earmarks –President Barack Obama and U.S. Senator Tom Coburn (R-OK) found common ground to spearhead a ban on pork-barrel spending, earmarks that lasted ten years. However, last December, 158 House Republicans held a secret vote to join Democrats and bring the pork back. The 2023 omnibus spending bill is littered with $16 billion worth, representing 7,500 member pet projects doled out to legally bribe legislators for their votes. Now that Republicans control the U.S. House, we encourage them to put the whole concept of earmarks up for a public vote!
Veep Makes a Big Leap – The Office of the Vice President rejected requests to see their spending – on one heck of a technicality. The Freedom of Information Act applies to government agencies, and Kamala Harris’ office says it’s not an agency. That makes her the ONLY elected official in the country not required to share her office’s spending. Team Harris has suffered consistent staff turnover, which could add to costs, and there are widespread questions about her mission focus. Is it the border? Space? Equitable infrastructure projects? We deserve to understand how her team is allocating resources.
The Fed is Awfully Reserved – The Federal Reserve is the central banking hub of the United States; their decisions have global economic implications. But they also “reserve” the right to be secretive about employee compensation and spending. They shared the pay of just 367 executives, claiming the other 23,000 employees’ earnings don’t “shed any further light on the Board’s performance of its statutory duties.” They also claim they searched for a database of their other expenditures and turned up nothing. No one’s buying this one.
Post Office Checkbook – The US Postal Service refuses to share their spending with the public. Their excuse is that it would invade the privacy of the vendors it pays and “expose trade secrets.” Somehow, we doubt UPS or FedEx would be looking for magical innovations from government mailmen, who posted $70 billion in losses during a recent eleven-year period. The service also refuses to share bonuses they pay out with tax dollars. You get a tracking number for your packages, but no, you may not track how your money is spent.
These are just six of the numerous ways government bureaucrats default to hiding their activities and spending from us, the taxpayers who employ them.
The Feds Declare War on Transparency
March 13, 2023
The feds have declared war on transparency. The culture of secrecy is more pervasive than ever.
Following last week’s six examples, let’s complete the dirty dozen on our 2023 transparency to-do list!
Weaponizing Government, Literally! – Today, there are 200,000 federal officersoutside of the Pentagon with arrest and firearm authority – a number which now exceeds the 186,000 U.S. Marines! Since 2017, there were 76 rank-and-file, paper pushing agencies like HHS, EPA, and SSA who purchased $110 million in weaponry for their special agents. For example, since 2006, the Internal Revenue Service purchased $21.3 million in guns, ammunition, and military-style equipment. But there’s no individual in government whose job is to keep track of the inventory and use of force statistics. Government must “pull the trigger” on tracking this data and, preferably, scale back their arsenals.
$1.4 Billion In Third-Party Royalties – Since 2010, the National Institutes of Health (NIH), its leaders, and its scientists split $1.4 billion in royalties paid from private companies (think pharmaceuticals). Taxpayer-paid scientists in taxpayer-paid labs at NIH create medical innovations. Then the inventions are monetized in the private-sector with license/patent royalties flowing back to NIH. Just one problem: NIH is hiding the company making each payment, the payment amount, and for which innovation. When bureaucrats give out public health advice, or invest our tax dollars in further research, Americans need to know the financial stakes at play. (RELATED: ADAM ANDRZEJEWSKI: Here’s What The Government Is Hiding From You)
Military’s K-12 Schools Go Woke – The Department of Defense Education Agency (DODEA) runs the schools for children of military families stationed on bases at home and abroad. But we found their diversity, equity, and inclusion chief, Kelisa Wing, allegedly used taxpayer-funded platforms to promote radical ideologies and push children’s books that she authored. Wing advocated for a racial reckoning and a revolution in K-12 military schools. Taxpayers spend $3.1 billion on the agency to educate 60,000 children. However, the agency rejected our Freedom of Information Act request for their line-by-line spending – the agency ‘checkbook.’
Leaving on a Jetplane – 500 staffers or members of Congress took 8,200 trips paid for by 700 third-party groups (2017-2021). More than 2,600 trips were to swanky overseas destinations like Paris, Berlin, and Tokyo. We found five globalist non-profits including like The Aspen Institute and the German Marshall Fund received $63 million in federal grants and contracts during those years; and their employees made $541,000 in political contributions! That makes each trip a potential conflict of interest. Finding these details takes a multi-tiered research effort; taxpayers should be able to easily see who’s funding our politicians’ getaways and, conversely, what they’re asking of government.
Title 42 Employees – Public health agencies can hire outside the normal pay and reporting structure when they claim they cannot attract necessary talent to protect Americans. It’s one of the reasons National Institutes of Health employees like Dr. Anthony Fauci and his wife, Christine Grady, are paid so highly. It’s also the reason the public cannot view their actual job descriptions or contracts – basic information! Title 42 employees follow different reporting protocols, and government agencies have seemingly long stopped bothering to comply. Outside groups have criticized the overuse of this provision. It’s time to audit how many Title 42 bureaucrats are employed, how many are truly needed, and whether the agencies are meeting reporting requirements.
Updated Inspection Sticker – The Inspectors General should stand for radical transparency. The IGs should maximize their legal mandates and issue reports and investigations more regularly. It’s a target-rich environment for waste and taxpayer abuse. Furthermore, agencies should have to quickly adopt or challenge IG recommendations. That simple change would go a long way in helping government get better, faster.
Adam Andrzejewski is CEO and Founder of OpenTheBooks.com, the largest private database of U.S. public sector expenditures.