Representative Steve Russell (R-OK) recently released his eighth edition of ‘Waste Watch – his version of the Wastebook which has highlighted billions in wasted taxpayer dollars. His latest report focuses on programs from previous Farm Bills and adds billions more to Russell’s crusade to uncover government waste.
From duplicative catfish inspection programs to anti-obesity hip-hop, the report contains some outrageous priorities and lack of program control. For example, the report found the USDA spent $444 million to update only 1.5% of its new IT system. According to the report, “in 2010 the USDA decided to consolidate its 31 farming programs into one IT system. The job was slated to take two years, with an estimated budget of just more than $300 million. However, when 2012 rolled around, the project had still not been completed.” In 2015, the project was only at 1.5% completion and had been $140 million over budget. Congress halted the program that year after a scathing OIG report, but, as Waste Watch notes, “this means the program had nearly five years of achieving nothing…before anybody took notice.”
The report also highlighted that the USDA wasted $6.2 million on cars it doesn’t use. An OIG audit identified over 1,000 vehicles with no use and over 5,000 vehicles with less than 5,000 miles driven in a one year period, which cost taxpayers over $6 million. OIG determined that these cars were not necessary for the USDA to maintain.
Finally, Waste Watch reports on the waste and inefficiency of a $4 billion farming initiative. Within the 2008 Farm Bill, Congress created an initiative for beginning farmers, but according to the report, “the federal government is not sure whether the $4 billion initiative for farmers has actually been successful” because “the department lacked effective performance goals and measures, as well as direction, coordination, and monitoring.” In addition, the USDA’s OIG goes further in saying that “USDA can neither ensure that the $3.9 billion of beginning farmer assistance in fiscal years 2012 and 2013 has achieved effective and measurable outcomes nor determine if three decades of beginning farmers assistance has resulted in sustainable farming operations.”
As Congress debates passing a new Farm Bill this year, it should use the programs and initiatives named in Waste Watch No. 8 as a starting point for fiscal reform. Read the full report here!
Want to see what these wasteful expenditures – and many others – could have purchased? Head to our NEW “Meme Generator” and show your friends that irresponsible spending has real world consequences.