Two Primary Election Days in NY Will Cost Taxpayers $120M
June 27, 2022
When elected Democrats in New York re-drew the state’s district lines for state Senate and Congress, the state’s highest court struck down the new lines as unconstitutional gerrymandering.
Democrats sought to give themselves even more of a heavy political advantage over Republicans in an already solidly blue state, a judge found.
Now, the state has two primary elections, one tomorrow and one in August, because of the illegal maneuver, costing taxpayers up to $120 million, according to Bloomberg.
Acting State Supreme Court Justice Patrick F. McAllister ordered the state Legislature to draw new bipartisan maps by April 11, for the June 28 primary elections for state Assembly and statewide races, including for governor.
But a neutral “special master,” Jonathan Cervas, a postdoctoral fellow at the Carnegie Mellon University Institute for Politics and Strategy, was ordered to redraw congressional and state Senate lines by May 20 in time for an August special election.
Since a primary election typically costs between $40 million and $60 million for expenses like printing ballots, setting up polling sites, and paying for poll workers, two elections would cost taxpayers up to $120 million, Bloomberg reported.
Partisan political maneuvering shouldn't cost taxpayers an extra $60 million.
Unfinished Security Facility Led to $103M of Waste
June 28, 2022
In 2014, the U.S. moved the embassy security forces in Kabul, Afghanistan closer to the embassy for security reasons. While the request was reasonable enough, an Office of Inspector General report found that the U.S. State Department paid a contractor $103 million for a project “without any discernible benefit to the Department or the people it intended to protect.”
When security conditions deteriorated in 2014 in Afghanistan, State Department officials were worried about threats to the movements of the Kabul Embassy Security Force. To build a new base for them closer to the U.S. Embassy, the State Department contracted Aegis to build the facility for $173.2 million.
Almost immediately, the contract was plagued by delays and cost overruns, which the Department took no action to correct or speed up, according to the OIG report. Despite the anticipated project deadline of 2016, so little work was done by 2017 that the contract was terminated.
In reviewing this project, the OIG found that decision makers often panicked and made poor decisions in a frenzy, leading to them ignoring cost considerations and failing to negotiate better deals. This resulted in spending $103 million on a project that was left hanging.
While decisions to secure an embassy amidst political and military turmoil in a hostile country will naturally lead to some mistakes, there is no reason the State Department shouldn’t have more safeguards and resources to make sure that officials are making wise decisions with your tax dollars.
Foster Children Held in Jails, Shelters Despite $1.5B Budget
June 29, 2022
The Illinois Department of Children and Family Services has the important job of caring for children that come into their care, often from abusive and neglectful homes. Sadly, a recent investigation from the Better Government Association shows that despite the agency’s large budget, children are not getting the help they need.
The investigation alleges that in 2021, 73 children were held in the Cook County juvenile temporary detention center without charges and 343 children were held in psychiatric hospitals after they were cleared for release, while other kids were held in offices and shelters.
Since 2018, 2,015 children have been held in improper settings due to lack of housing, the report states.
Additionally, two department employees were murdered while making home visits. An investigator was beat to death in 2017, and in 2022 another was stabbed to death. Safety concerns are likely one of the reasons that more than 21 percent of jobs are now vacant at the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services this year, up from 9 percent in 2021.
Cook County Public Guardian Charles Golbert told Better Government Association, “Inappropriate child placements, shoddy service delivery and employee danger are just a few of the problems intertwined with leadership failures.”
The agency’s budget shows not only did they have a $1.6 billion available in spending in 2022, they are requesting a $1.8 billion budget next year. Democrats claim that former Gov. Bruce Rauner is to blame for cutting funding, but their budget has increased by over $300 million since Rauner was ousted in 2018.
While it’s admittedly a difficult job to try and find new homes for children in need, the agency is failing at its fundamental mission. More money won’t fix that, only careful reform and aggressive oversight.
In 1981, Department of Defense Paid $13K for Useless Bull Experiment
June 30, 2022
In 1981, the Department of Defense paid $13,000 – worth over $41,000 in 2022 dollars – for a six-year study that they later admitted was completely useless, all to save the pride of a senior official who made a mistake in his Congressional testimony.
Sen. William Proxmire, a Democrat from Wisconsin, awarded the Department of Defense his Golden Fleece Award for this shameful waste of money.
The saga began in 1974, when the Navy began testing a new system called ELF — Extremely Low Frequency — to communicate with submarines. When some questions arose at a Congressional hearing about the system’s possible biological side effects to Naval sailors, then Deputy Sec. of Defense William Clements mistakenly said that the system had been tested on cattle, despite there being no such test.
Not wanting to stain the reputation of Clements, the Navy rushed to begin such tests to give credibility to those statements. They spent $13,000 to purchase and care for a Hereford Bull named Sylvester, who was promptly placed in a cramped 10x10 foot pen onboard a submarine.
Soon, Naval officials realized that this experiment wouldn’t lead to any valid results, since the sample size was one bull of “questionable quality.” Nonetheless, they kept the charade up for six years, leaving Sylvester in isolation on a submarine, knowing it was all for nothing. Finally, after six years, the order came to put Sylvester down, and an autopsy concluded that while he was a bit obese, he was an otherwise healthy specimen.
While this study may not have the eye-popping numbers of other examples, it is an apt case study in the lengths the government will go through to avoid embarrassment.
SBA Had No Plan to Address Potential Fraud in $814B PPP Program
July 1, 2022
It’s no secret that the Paycheck Protection Program is rife with fraud, with some estimates putting total fraud up to $80 billion, nearly 10 percent of the $814 billion program.
Now, an investigation from the Small Business Administration Inspector General claims that the SBA created the program with no safeguards to protect against fraud, leading to what a former U.S. attorney has called the “biggest fraud in a generation.”
One of the IG’s most critical findings was, “The agency did not establish a centralized entity to design, lead, and manage fraud risk.” One might think that when pushing over $800 billion out the door, there would be someone in charge of making sure the money is going to the right people. They also “did not establish a sufficient fraud risk framework at the start of and throughout PPP implementation.”
Additionally, lenders that partnered with the SBA to help distribute loans, “were not always clear on how to handle PPP fraud or recover funds obtained fraudulently from the PPP that remained in the borrower’s account.”
Overall, the IG concluded that, “These control gaps weakened SBA’s ability to actively prevent and reduce fraud and increased the risk of fraudulent and ineligible applicants receiving PPP loans and loan forgiveness.”
Criminals have taken advantage of the lax oversight and enforcement to buy Teslas, mansions, and flights on private jets. So far, there have been 587 prosecutions of fraud claims, barely making a dent in the over 54,000 tips to the SBA’s fraud hotline, according to the report.
The #WasteOfTheDay is presented by the forensic auditors at OpenTheBooks.com.