Biden Wants to Add 82K Workers, Est. $8.2B Annual Cost
April 17, 2023
President Joe Biden wants to add 82,000 more employees to the federal workforce, putting civilian federal payrolls at their highest levels since World War II, according to Government Executive.
While the presidential budget is rarely adopted as introduced, the Biden budget plan for FY 2024 is to grow the federal workforce by 3.6% to historic levels, sending a strong signal to Congress that the White House wants to pursue an aggressive expansion of U.S. government.
According to the Government Executive, the Treasury Department would see the greatest spike in personnel under Biden’s proposal, thanks to 13,000 proposed new employees. This addition is largely fueled by the $80 billion in new funding Congress provided the IRS — a Treasury agency — in the Inflation Reduction Act.
Other agencies that would see large employment boosts under Biden’s proposal include the Department of Veterans Affairs, which would increase its workforce by 20,000 employees, the largest gross increase in employees across the bureaucracy.
Land management agencies would also see employment spikes, with the National Park Service increasing its rolls by 7% to work on conservation efforts, the Fish and Wildlife Service increasing its staff by 10% to investigate wildlife crimes, and the Agriculture Department's Natural Resources Conservation Service looking to grow by 17% to conduct more climate research and expand climate hubs.
Our 2021 oversight report of federal employees’ pay showed that the average pay was $100,000 in 100 of 122 executive agencies and departments. That number has likely increased, but a conservative estimate brings pay for 82,000 new employees to $8.2 billion in the first year — without benefits.
While the total cost of all of these new employees has yet to be calculated with precision, the aggressive goals of the Biden Administration to increase the federal workforce is sure to leave taxpayers with a steep bill when a budget eventually passes.
NIH Gives $2.2B to Foreign Animal Testing Labs That Lack Oversight
April 18, 2023
There are disturbing gaps in oversight at overseas labs that use animals in experiments. Labs to which the National Institutes of Health has given $2.2 billion in contracts and grants from 2011 to 2021, according to a recent report from the U.S. Government Accountability Office.
The report found that while the NIH requires these foreign labs to file annual reports attesting to their compliance with U.S. animal testing guidelines, it “doesn't verify the reliability of the information in these reports.”
When they receive U.S. funding, labs must meet U.S. and international standards for humane and ethical experimentation on animals, and comply with all local regulations. The GAO found that while the NIH has the capacity and resources to identify and investigate risks before and while the money is awarded, “because the award recipients self-generate the information in the annual reports, there are risks that any animal welfare issues may be misrepresented.”
The GAO makes the obvious recommendation that the NIH should take steps “such as conducting site visits or requiring third-party verification” to mitigate the risk of misrepresentation. Requiring third-party verification would cost the U.S. nothing, and could make a big difference in ensuring all labs receiving funds are following the proper guidelines.
With an annual budget of $45 billion, it is unacceptable that the NIH can’t be bothered with basic oversight to ensure taxpayer money isn’t funding inhumane animal testing.
Seattle Public Schools Have $131M Deficit
April 19, 2023
So far through February 2023, Seattle Public Schools has made $67.5 million more in expenditures than it has received in revenue, part of a total projected deficit of $131 million, according to Chalkboard Review.
According to the article, the spending comes in three main categories: regular education, special education, and support services.
Falling enrollment and ballooning support staffs have both contributed to the district’s insolvency. Student enrollment has plummeted from 52,730 in the 2019-20 school year to 49,387 in the 2023-24 school year.
Despite fewer students in the buildings, the number of staff has increased from 5,609 in 2014 to 7,273 last year. These expensive bureaucrats have steadily increased costs despite having fewer students needing their help.
According to The Center Square, the school district is considering cutting $33 million in spending from the central office. It is also looking at another $11 million in school-based cuts.
These measures, while necessary and appropriate, still don’t come close to solving the problem. The most effective and succinct solution — consolidation — has been ruled out for now by the superintendent.
School districts are just as liable as local and state governments to overspend and exercise poor financial judgement. For the sake of our children, it’s important they rein in ballooning costs and spend wisely.
Throwback Thursday: U.S. Built Sewer Plants That Never Worked
April 20, 2023
In the 1980s, the Environmental Protection Agency spent $206 million – $545 million in 2023 dollars – to construct five sewage treatment plants in Puerto Rico that were never functional and soon fell apart.
Sen. William Proxmire, a Democrat from Wisconsin, awarded the EPA his Golden Fleece Award in 1987 for this horribly mismanaged project.
After spending $206 million on the five treatment plants, Puerto Rico was found to be in violation of the Clean Water Act, which calls for regulating discharges of pollutants into the waters of the United States.
Puerto Rico tried to correct the violations, Proxmire said, but problems have persisted, all while spending taxpayer money.
The EPA spent years in court trying to remedy the violations, but the sewage plants sat unused. Thanks to lack of maintenance or upkeep, they quickly corroded and rusted.
The EPA Inspector General gave them a scathing report, writing, “we concluded that hundreds of millions of dollars had been expended ineffectively in an atmosphere of poor internal controls, procrastination, and lax enforcement.”
This ineffective approach cost taxpayers millions of dollars, and cost Puerto Rican citizens better access to sewage treatment. As Proxmire humorously notes, “this episode gives a new meaning to the concept of taxpayers’ money being flushed down the drain.”
Tracking Ukraine Spending Costs $42M
April 21, 2023
The U.S. has sent $113.4 billion in aid to Ukraine to fight off Russia since February 2022. Aid that needs robust oversight.
Unfortunately, instead of a centralized and streamlined approach, Congress has appropriated $42 million across three federal agencies — the Defense Department, State Department, and U.S. Agency for International Development — to attempt to monitor Ukraine aid.
The DOD has appropriated $62.3 billion in aid to Ukraine, and the State Department and USAID appropriated a combined $46 billion. Ten other executive agencies made up the other $5 billion in funding.
Because of this fractured approach to distributing the aid, the oversight of the aid is fractured as well. Instead of a central body keeping track of all of these expenditures, each agency’s respective inspector general is responsible for oversight of these funds. In total, the inspectors general at these agencies have received an extra $42 million to help them monitor Ukraine aid expenditures.
Splitting oversight into separate verticals makes it more difficult to evaluate their oversight and fully understand how well or poorly our money is being used.
Some Republicans in Congress, like Senator Josh Hawley (R-Mo.), have advocatedfor a special inspector general tasked exclusively with overseeing Ukraine aid. While this would have been wise, Congress never approved it.
It’s important that these inspectors general collaborate with each other to ensure the American people have a full understanding of how their money is being spent.
The #WasteOfTheDay is presented by the forensic auditors at OpenTheBooks.com.