Defense Department to Spend $3.8 Million on Bird Care
April 4, 2022
The Pentagon is no stranger to wasteful spending, but its latest project spends up to $3.8 million to care for a captive bird species known as the Loggerhead Shrike.
The DOD’s grant notice describes its goal to “continue to maintain and care for captive Loggerhead Shrikes for release, provide necessary veterinary care and pathology for chicks and adults, and to collect and analyze all necessary biological data.”
The grantee should expect the work to include, “maintaining and caring for current captive loggerhead shrike at San Clemente Island, production of juvenile loggerhead shrikes for release, execution of supplemental diet plans that provide food and forage for captive flock, provide demographic and genetic management for captive and wild flocks on San Clemente Island, and providing veterinary care and pathology services for San Clement Loggerhead Shrikes.”
The DOD is the funding agency for this project because it’s located at the Naval Auxiliary Landing Field on San Clemente Island in California.
While conserving a bird species is a laudable goal, spending $3.8 million isn’t necessary. Surely, nonprofits would be happy to help with the conservation of this species for a smaller price tag. Even the already well-funded Department of Interior could send some of its experts to help.
Biden Wants $2.6 Billion for Gender Equity Worldwide
April 5, 2022
On International Women’s Day, President Joe Biden announced that his FY 2023 budget will include $2.6 billion for foreign assistance programs to promote gender equity, more than double than what he set aside the previous year.
In the announcement, Biden touted his accomplishments in gender equity, like the creation of a White House Gender Policy Council, the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act, the provisions for childcare funding in the American Rescue Plan, and the establishment of the Gender Equity and Equality Action Fund, among others.
Biden didn’t release details about exactly where the money was going, but funding for foreign assistance programs often results in waste because of its decentralized nature.
Last summer, our auditors at OpenTheBooks.com released a report showing that U.S. taxpayers already pay approximately $50 billion a year in foreign aid – an amount more than the federal money flowing to 48 out of 50 state governments.
Much of the new worldwide gender funding will likely go to individual missions and embassies in foreign countries, which will have broad discretion in the programs they choose to sponsor.
With few guidelines and little oversight, there’s no telling where these funds will end up.
The budget request will soon be sent to Congress, which ultimately decides what funding to approve, but the Democratic majority in the House of Representatives will likely try to incorporate the president’s priorities into its bill. It’s likely that $2.6 billion for gender equity for foreign assistance programs will make its way into the final bill.
$421 Million New York Courthouse Falling Apart After 14 Years
April 6, 2022
In 2008, New York opened a new state-of-the-art courthouse in the Bronx, named the Bronx Hall of Justice, to help deal with a growing caseload. After just 14 years, it’s already falling apart, according to an investigation by The City, a NYC news outlet.
When the project was announced more 20 years ago by then-Mayor Rudy Giuliani and then-New York Gov. George Pataki, it was supposed to open in 2005, and cost $325 million, The City reported.
The project opened after a three-year delay, and cost of $421 million, 30 percent more than projected.
The firm that was responsible for the construction, the Vinoly Group, has been sued by the Dormitory Authority of the State of New York for allegedly shoddy construction on an athletic facility at Brooklyn College. It also designed a luxury condominium building in Manhattan that an outside consulting firm levied allegations of “over 1,500 individual construction and design defects,” according to The City.
Unfortunately, the same firm was a vendor on the Bronx Hall of Justice.
Before it was even opened, New York had to hire another firm for post-construction work and remediation. Now, floors are collapsing, lower levels are flooding, and windows are shattering, according to the report. Someone dropped a lit cigarette into a ventilation grate and started a fire, but the faulty fire alarm was disabled, allowing the fire to spread, according to The City. On the third level, roof leaks have rendered the floor unusable.
The building is in such poor condition that the city Department of Buildings has yet to grant it a final certificate of occupancy despite it being open for 14 years. Instead, it has been issuing temporary permits until minor code violations were fixed.
Taxpayers were sold a bill of goods that this new courthouse would help make the justice system more efficient. Instead, it has become an endless sinkhole for their tax dollars.
In 1986, the Army Spent $159,000—$411,000 in Today’s Dollars—On Decorative Shrubbery
April 7, 2022
The U.S. Army spent $159,000 in 1986 — $411,000 in 2022 dollars — on decorative trees and shrubs that died within a year.
Sen. William Proxmire, a Democrat from Wisconsin, awarded the Army a Golden Fleece Award for this wasteful and unnecessary project.
In September of that year, Army bureaucrats at Fort Belvoir in Virginia discovered an extra $159,000 in their budget. Instead of returning that money to the government, they decided to use the extra funds to spruce up their base.
At first, they spent a modest $35,000 for landscaping design, Proxmire found. As the fiscal year was about to end, they blew another $124,000 on Sept. 29 and 30 on holly bushes, ash trees, and various other shrubbery and trees.
Unfortunately, due to inadequate planning and poor maintenance, the trees and bushes withered within a year, and were removed by the next winter.
Sen. Proxmire was correct in accusing the Army of “digging a hole and burying $159,000 of taxpayers’ dollars,” with this wasteful project.
This story is an excellent example of “use-it-or-lose-it” spending. Each year, federal agencies go on a spending spree at the end of the fiscal year to spend their funds in order to avoid giving money back to the government. As a result, some of the most wasteful spending happens because bureaucrats are looking for anything to use up their budget.
Our August 2020 report highlighted this phenomenon and found that roughly $1 in every $10 federal contracting dollars was spent in the final 30 days of the fiscal year.
Covid-19 State of Emergency Price Tag: $18 Billion a Year
April 8, 2022
In the battle against Covid-19, the Biden administration extended the Covid state of emergency yet again, making it the ninth extension.
Biden campaigned on shutting down the virus, not the country. But he told all 50 governors at the beginning of 2021 that he intended to extend the 90-day state of emergency through the entirety of 2021, rather than reassessing where the country was at the end of each 90-day extension.
Using Congressional Budget Office data, our OpenTheBooks.com investigationfound that each time the state of emergency is extended for another 90 days, it costs taxpayers at least $4.5 billion in additional Medicaid spending.
Therefore, the annual costs amount to $18 billion – just in increased Medicaid spending. That’s because there is a provision that increases Medicaid spending by 6.2 percent each time the state of emergency is declared or renewed.
Furthermore, the state of emergency must be perpetually renewed for the vaccines to remain legal under emergency use authorization.
Should the public health emergency end, the current vaccines, tests, and treatments would not be considered approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
The U.S. needs a plan on how to move forward. Bleeding $18 billion every year is not sustainable.
The #WasteOfTheDay is presented by the forensic auditors at OpenTheBooks.com.