For the Good of Illinois

Forbes: Ten Ways President Trump's Agencies Spent $100B In A Use-It-Or-Lose-It Shopping Spree In Sept 2018

March 11, 2019 07:00 AM
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Ten Ways President Trump's Agencies Spent $100B in a Use-It-Or-Lose-It Shopping Spree in Sept 2018


For federal agencies, Christmas comes in September.
In the final month of the fiscal year, federal agencies scramble to spend what’s left in their annual budgets. Agencies worry that spending a smaller amount than Congress appropriated this year might mean they’ll receive less money next year.
So, rather than admit the department could run efficiently on a smaller budget, federal agencies embark on a shopping spree. This is the "use it or lose it" spending phenomenon – and it happens every year on the taxpayer dime.
Our OpenTheBooks oversight report on the fiscal year 2018 use-it-or-lose-it spending spree quantified $97 billion in contracts signed during the month of September.
In the final seven days of the year, federal agencies blew through $53 billion in contracts – that’s $1 in $10 of all contract spending on the year, in the final week.
The problem isn’t new and it isn’t going away. In fact, it’s getting worse. Our report shows a 15 percent increase in use-it-or-lose-it contracts from last year to this year. From 2015, that’s a 39 percent increase.
Here are ten ways the government spent your tax dollars in last year’s use-it-or-lose-it spending spree:
  • $26.8 million at Trump’s Executive Office of the President – In the final month of fiscal year 2018, President Donald Trump’s office signed 16 contracts, purchasing office furniture, passenger vehicles, cameras, newspaper subscriptions, and more. From 2015 to 2018, there was a 60-percent increase in use-it-or-lose-it spending by the office of the president.
  • $5 Million on Crab and Lobster – As the fiscal year wrapped up, federal agencies celebrated by splurging on luxury food items. The Department of Defense spent $2.3 million on snow crab, Alaskan king crab, and crab legs and claws, plus another $2.3 million on lobster tail. Additionally, agencies spent nearly $300,000 on steak (ribeye, top sirloin, and flank). 
  • $491 Million to Redecorate – In the final month of fiscal year 2018, federal agencies signed nearly 10,000 contracts to purchase furniture. Notably, the Department of Defense spent $9,341 on a Wexford leather club chair.
  • More than $300,000 on Booze – For some agencies, the end of the fiscal year seems to be one big party. The Department of Defense and the Department of State purchased beer, wine, and whiskey. Contract recipients included Coors Brewing Company ($76,173); E&J Gallo Winery ($16,510), and more.
  • More Than $800 Million to Load the Gun Locker – Fifteen agencies made last-minute purchases of guns, ammunition, and other weaponry during the final month of the fiscal year. Even non-military agencies including the Department of Veterans Affairs, the Office of Personnel Management, the Small Business Administration, and the Environmental Protection Agency bought more than $100,000 in guns and ammunition. 
  • $9.8 Million on Workout Equipment and Recreation – Federal agencies must have set new fitness goals when they spent $462,791 on treadmills and dumbbells and $22,505 on CrossFit equipment. Spending tax dollars is all fun and games according to the $1.2 million agencies spent on playground equipment, $50,000 on skis and ski poles, and $12,000 on a foosball table. 
  • $462 Million Self Promotion Machine – Federal agencies spent millions on public relations, marketing research and public opinion, communications, and advertising in the final month of fiscal year 2018. The feds already employ 5,000 public affairs officers. It wasn’t enough.
  • Nearly $300 Million on Transportation – Federal agencies drove up taxpayer costs, signing nearly 3,000 transportation-related contracts in the final month of fiscal year 2018. Agencies purchased passenger vehicles from Navistar Defense, Ford Motor Company, and General Motors. Additionally, the government purchased nontraditional vehicles including golf carts, motorcycles, and snowmobiles.
  • $7.7 Million on iPhones and iPads – Federal employees were sure to update their cell phones before the fiscal year ended, contracting with AT&T, Apple, and T-Mobile. These purchases included iPads at Veterans Affairs, cellular data at the Department of Defense, and a bulk order of iPhone 8s and blackberry replacements. The Department of State spent $107,097 on Apple’s latest iPhone X and screen protectors.
  • $49 Million on Miscellaneous Spending – The federal agencies’ last-minute shopping spree purchases range from batteries and books, to toys and tableware. The General Services Administration spent $53,000 on china tableware, $42,500 on inflatable games, and $34,000 on model rockets.
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