University of Michigan Spends $18M on Equity Administrators
February 13, 2023
The growing number of college administrators has in part caused the cost of college to skyrocket. At the public University of Michigan, 142 diversity, equity and inclusion administrators cost students and taxpayers $18.1 million annually, according to the Daily Caller.
University of Michigan economics professor emeritus Mark Perry compiled this analysis in a series of tweets. Perry found that salaries and benefits for the 2022-2023 school year added up to over $18 million, with the top paid DEI administrator, the vice provost for equity and inclusion, earning a base salary of $380,000.
There are 17 administrators in the DEI department who earn over $200,000, and 95 who make over $100,000.
In-state tuition is around $17,000 per year. The cost of these administrators could pay for the tuition of 1,065 students, or about 3% of their undergraduate student body of 32,600 students.
The number of DEI administrators at the University of Michigan has exploded in recent years, with 82 administrators in the 2018-2019 school year costing $10.6 million, the Daily Caller reported. In the 2021-2022 school year, those numbers rose to $15.6 million for 126 people.
“Those misguided and expensive DEI resources could be better spent by reducing tuition, instead of feeding new layers of costly administrative bloat that end up getting passed along to students in the form of higher tuition and fees,” Perry told the Daily Caller.
While DEI departments have been fixtures in universities for years, their seemingly unending growth in both size and cost only compounds the problem of college affordability.
Washington Ferries Receive $11.6M for Upgrades, Electrification
February 14, 2023
As part of a push to electrify ferries, Washington State Ferries will receive $11.6 million from the Federal Transit Administration to make various upgrades and improvements to their system, according to The Seattle Times.
Of the total, $4.9 million will help build an electric ferry charging system, $5 million will be spent on dock improvements, and $1.7 million will go toward transitioning to an electric payment processing system.
The funding comes as part of a broader push to electrify ferries, with Washington State passing an electrification plan that calls for 16 new or converted electric ferries and charging stations. Lawmakers have already earmarked $1.3 billion for the construction of five of these new electric ferries, which aren’t expected to be operational until 2027, according to The Seattle Times.
In addition to the billions in earmarks for new ferries, Washington State government will spend another $14.4 million to build electric charging stations.
Other investments include making certain docks more friendly to pedestrian passengers and updating the Southworth dock to meet Americans with Disabilities Act standards.
Washington State Ferries is one of the largest ferry systems in the U.S., with 17.3 million riders in 2021. This transportation system shouldn’t need massive federal funding to operate and make basic service improvements, and should save for major investments like any other business.
More importantly, these ambitious and costly projects are best taken in moderation. Even with tens of millions flowing from multiple government entities, Washington State is still years away from reaching these goals, leaving taxpayers with the bill for services that are years down the line.
DoD Education Activity Didn’t Monitor $50M in Grants
February 15, 2023
The Department of Defense Education Activity potentially wasted $50 million from 2016 to 2020 on grantees that did not meet the terms and conditions or goals of their grants, according to a report from the DoD Inspector General.
The DoDEA is a federal school system that runs pre-kindergarten through 12th grade educational programs for the DoD. It also runs a grant program to support projects that help students who attend schools on military bases.
When a government entity gives out a grant, the entity receiving the money must meet a certain set of terms and conditions, and it also must provide updates to prove that it is meeting its goals.
In the case of the DoDEA, it didn’t quite work out that way. The Inspector General found that for 70 of the 186 grants given from 2016-2020, the DoDEA didn’t verify that the terms and conditions of the grant were being met.
Additionally, there were 139 grants that would have required verification that interim goals were being met, but the DoDEA didn’t verify that goals were being met on 100 of those 139 projects.
The Inspector General blames the missing verification on the lack of a process to handle late or nonexistent financial and performance reports. These mistakes could potentially cost taxpayers $49.9 million for grants that do not meet federal standards of conduct or progress.
The DoD is routinely one of the most well-funded federal agencies. The lack of basic oversight on millions of dollars going to entities that may not even meet preliminary terms is concerning.
Throwback Thursday: Army Corps of Engineers Spent $33M on Beach for Luxury Hotels
February 16, 2023
In 1985, the Army Corp of Engineers spent $33 million – worth $89 million in 2023 dollars – to develop and renovate a lavish beachfront for luxury hotels and condos in Florida.
Sen. William Proxmire, a Democrat from Wisconsin, awarded the Army Corp of Engineers his Golden Fleece Award for this outrageous misuse of taxpayers’ money.
The work was mostly done in the Miami Beach area on Florida’s East Coast and consisted of dredging offshore sand and putting it on the beach to artificially widen it. However, natural forces continually erode the beach, and the work must be repeated to maintain the progress from the project, meaning a never-ending investment in the area would be needed to maintain it.
While this may be a laudable goal if it benefited the local community, this particular section of the beach mainly housed rich tourists that stayed at ritzy hotels, and wealthy condo owners that owned this segment of the beach.
Local projects should be funded locally, and in this case should have been funded by the wealthy hotels and condos that benefited from it.
This project is also an example of mission creep, where projects get bigger and costlier as they progress. The government originally intended to renovate 10 miles of beachfront. Then, it decided to add another 2.5 miles. The Corps also designated an additional $17 million for the project as it progressed, on top of the originally planned $33 million.
This unsustainable and costly project stuck taxpayers with a bill that benefited wealthy landowners, not everyday citizens.
NJ Spent $521K of Covid Funds on SUVs For Top Officials
February 17, 2023
New Jersey found a creative way to use leftover Covid-19 relief money, spending over half a million dollars on a fleet of eight new SUVs to ferry the state’s top executives, according to Politico.
The funds were left over from the 2021 American Rescue Plan Act, when the federal government sent $200 million to the State of New Jersey to help combat Covid-19. Initially, the idea was to help states and municipalities cover expenses for things like masks, hand sanitizer, and enhanced cleanings.
A Treasury Department memo says the state could use the funds for “costs to improve the design and execution of programs responding to the Covid-19 pandemic and to administer or improve the efficacy of programs addressing the public health emergency or its negative economic impacts,” Politico reported.
The New Jersey State Police bought the vehicles for its Executive Protection Unit, which transports the governor, lieutenant governor, and other top administration officials.
NJ Gov. Phil Murphy’s office provided a memo to the state legislature’s Joint Budget Oversight Committee on how his office intended to use its portion of the funds. This included the eight SUVs, which were justified in the memo by stating, “As part of their many responsibilities, these officials provide leadership and lend support to the state’s Covid-19 recovery efforts at vaccination sites, hospitals, nursing homes, long-term care facilities and other affected sites.”
Also included in the governor’s memo about Covid spending was $4 million to recruit new state police officers, $10 million for license plate readers, and $8.5 million for school social and emotional learning programs.
Reasonable people can disagree over the amount of stimulus money the government gave out over multiple rounds from 2020 to 2021. But leftover money no longer needed to fight Covid should be returned to the federal government, not wasted on local pet projects.
The #WasteOfTheDay is presented by the forensic auditors at OpenTheBooks.com.