Real Clear Policy: #WasteOfTheDay Week 148 160_wotd_wk_148

December 11, 2023 12:50 PM



Selling Federal Government’s Excess Property Could Earn $3 Billion Annually

December 11, 2023


Uncle Sam is sitting on more real property than any other entity in America. If it sold, the U.S. government could earn billions.

That’s according to Citizens Against Government Waste’s annual report “Prime Cuts,” a list of recommendations to reduce the record national debt.

The organization noted that the U.S. government owns approximately 267,000 buildings and structures covering 1.9 billion square feet of office space.

“Due to a combination of negative incentives and unnecessary red tape, selling federal real estate is a long, costly process,” the report noted. But reforms are needed to unload the unused property and get back taxpayer funds.

When General Services Administration Public Buildings Service reports an unused property as excess, that property is offered to other federal agencies. If no agency wants it, according to Title 40 of the U.S. Code and the McKinney Vento Homeless Assistance Act, it must be offered to providers of homeless shelters, who can use the property for free.

If shelter operators don’t want it, the property is screened for other public uses and sold for up to a 100 percent discount of market value.

If there’s no possible public use, the property is auctioned and sold.

But that process is upside down, Citizens Against Government Waste argued, “The government should first try to sell the property and give it away only if there is no other alternative.”

Since 2016, the Federal Property Management Reform Act requires the U.S. Postal Service every year to provide a list of properties with available space for federal agencies and establishes a council to help guide and implement an “efficient and effective real property management strategy,” reduce expenses, and determine how to better manage assets and property, the report stated.

It also requires federal agencies to provide an annual list of real property under their control, along with its condition, and whether it’s occupied.

That has shown the 5,066 bathrooms, 16,570 parking lots and garages, more than 1,500 prisons, nearly 17,000 warehouses, 766 hospitals and 2,427 schools, the report stated.

So why not sell it off? It takes years to sell federal property and all the while, taxpayer money is being used to pay the approximately $2 billion each year operating and maintaining buildings, regardless of occupancy, and around $5 billion annually to lease office buildings.



Maryland Health Department Doesn’t Know What It Did With $1.4 Billion

December 12, 2023


Imagine being in charge of spending for a state’s health department initiatives, including the billions in federal funding received during the height of the Covid-19 pandemic. Now imagine losing track of $1.4 billion.

That’s what the Maryland Department of Health did when it failed to adequately track federal reimbursements it received during the pandemic, leading to more than $1 billion in unaccounted-for funds, according to a recent audit from the state Office of Legislative Audits, the Washington Post reported.

But that’s not the worst of it.

At the end of Fiscal Year 2022, the department couldn’t account for $3.5 billion in reimbursed funds it should have received from the federal government. By April, the office recovered $2.1 billion of those funds, leaving $1.4 billion that should have been reimbursed undocumented.

Maryland Gov. Wes Moore said the audit “raises significant concerns about how finances were documented and handled at the Department of Health during the previous administration” of Gov. Larry Hogan.

Most of the Health Department’s top leadership changed before the audit was completed, during the transition between Hogan and Moore.

If efforts fail to recover the $1.4 billion, some Maryland officials fear that state taxpayers could be on the hook, the Post reported. But others said maybe the accounting errors could be fixed without dipping into future budgets.

“The Health Department haphazardly filed for reimbursements from the federal government, often delaying those requests for months,” the Post reported. “The agency then failed to keep track of the reimbursement payments it received, according to the audit, leading to uncertainty over whether the state had submitted all of its eligible expenses on time or received all of the federal money it was owed.”

This lack of basic recordkeeping and budgeting skills is shameful and would be a shame to hoist on taxpayers.



PA School District Pays Satanic Temple $200K, Allows Satan Club

December 13, 2023


A school district in eastern Pennsylvania will pay The Satanic Temple $200,000 to settle a discrimination lawsuit, and allow students to attend meetings of the After School Satan Club on school property — should it ever decide to meet.

The Saucon Valley School District initially agreed to let the Satan club — whose motto is “Educatin’ with Satan” — use school facilities, the New York Port reported.It met a few times last spring, the Philadelphia Inquirer reported.

But the district withdrew permission after public outcry, protests and a threat in February that shut down schools for a day.

The Satanic Temple, along with the American Civil Liberties Union, filed a lawsuit, accusing the school district of discrimination.

The settlement not only allows the club to meet in Saucon Valley Middle School, but has the district pay $200,000 in attorney’s fees.

The ACLU called the settlement “a victory for free speech and religious liberty.” The organization claimed that The Satanic Temple’s First Amendment rights were violated when the public school district wouldn’t allow the After School Satan Club to meet on school grounds when it allows other religious groups to meet incluidng the Christian-based Good News Club.

But Saucon Valley school district attorney Mark Fitzgerald said the reason the district changed its mind is due to safety.

“By enforcing its policies regarding the use of facilities, the district maintained a safe educational environment for its students in the face of credible threats of violence that had already caused closure of the schools and panic in the community,” Fitzgerald said.

After $200,000 of taxpayer funds were given to lawyers for The Satanic Temple, however, the group’s director admitted that it didn’t intend to hold meetings.

Director June Everett told the Inquirer that the club will be on hold because the Good News Club had seemingly been disbanded, and her club will only resurrect if the Christina club resumes.

The Satanic Temple starts After School Satan Clubs in public school districts only where Christian-based religious programs are allows to used facilities, Everett said.

To make a point about speech, rile up a community and get a “win” in the courts, the group cost taxpayers $200,000.



Commerce Dept. Holds Multiple Training Sessions At Three-Star Hotels

December 14, 2023


Throwback Thursday! 

In 1982, The Department of Commerce’s Minority Business Development Agency spent $138,000 – $440,000 in 2023 dollars – to hold three management training seminars at three-star resort hotels.

For this wasteful spending, Sen. William Proxmire, a Democrat from Wisconsin, gave the Commerce Department a Golden Fleece Award. He gave awards to wasteful and nonsensical spending, eventually handing out 168 Golden Fleece Awards between 1975 and 1988.



Nevada Will Pay Burned Inmates $340,000 For Mistreatment

December 15, 2023

Eight inmates in a Nevada state prison were forced to fight fires without training and proper equipment, and weren’t given medical treatment after suffering burns, they alleged in lawsuits that led to a $340,000 settlement.

Past and present inmates filed several lawsuits against the state over their treatment, the Nevada Independent reported.

The separate state and federal lawsuits came after eight inmates were cleaning up remnants of a fire near Laughlin, about 90 miles south of Las Vegas, in April 2021.

The fire began burning their feet as they worked, but they were required to continue, and two supervisors “mocked” them, according to the lawsuits. The sole of one inmate’s boot melted off, and a supervisor wrapped the shoe in duct tape and required work to continue, they claimed.

After they finished, the prisoners could “barely walk,” one of the lawsuits stated, and many needed assistance to get off a bus and reached a restroom by crawling, the Independent reported.

They didn’t receive medical treatment until the next day, when doctors sliced off dead skin and tissue without providing any pain medication, they claimed. Several of the firefighting inmates spent the next two weeks in recovery, the Independent reported.

The inmates who participated in the firefighting program weren’t given any in-field training before and were unable to report worn-out equipment or supervisors’ negligence, their suit claimed.

According to the lawsuit, the Department of Corrections inspector general investigated the incident and found the firefighters got second-degree burns on their feet, received insufficient training and were wearing worn-out boots.

The eight plaintiffs will receive amounts ranging from around $24,000 to $48,000, with remaining money to be distributed to the plaintiff’s counsel.

The settlement also established new safety protocols and training programs for participants of the firefighting program, a partnership between the Nevada Division of Forestry and the Nevada Department of Corrections.

The prisoner firefighters receive just $24 daily, which some state officials compared to enslavement and forced labor, the Independent reported. Their service can earn them a sentence reduction of up to 45 days.

Prisoners serving their time are legally and ethically entitled to a safe existence behind bars, and not providing that has costs taxpayers more than it would have to administer the proper care in the first place.

The #WasteOfTheDay is presented by the forensic auditors at

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