"Federal Fumbles" highlights absurd spending of taxpayers' money…
(Emily Larsen, Liberty Headlines) Silly studies, San Diego streetcars, and the US immigration system come under scrutiny in Senator James Lankford's (R-OK) third annual federal waste report.
"Federal Fumbles: 100 ways the government has dropped the ball," not only highlights federal wasted dollars, but wasted time and effort.
The report contains 100 examples of frivolous spending, lack of oversight, structural changes, and wasted effort which range from the silly to serious structural problems.
At a press conference to announce the report's release, Lankford scrutinized large amounts of money spent on local projects.
One billion dollars of federal funds are being spent to build streetcar in San Diego, equating to about $100 million per mile.
Lankford pointed out that a similar streetcar in Oklahoma City is being built with local money, not federal dollars.
Many other "Federal Fumbles" listed excessive grants from the National Science Foundation, the National Institute of Health, and the National Endowment for the Arts.
The National Endowment for the Arts funded a $30,000 production of "Doggie Hamlet," in a field in New Hampshire. The production didn't use any lines from Hamlet.
"Again, it's fine if a local community wants to do that, I'm just confused why the people of Oklahoma are paying for the production of Doggie Hamlet in New Hampshire," Lankford said.
Over $2.6 million was spent by the NSF to study how the stickleback fish adapts to murky water in Iceland and Alaska.
The NIH spent $1.2 million to develop "comfortable collars" with RFID chips to track Asian monkeys in a half-acre living area.
Another NIH study spent $1.1 million over the last two years to research "why red-haired individuals are so prone to developing melanoma," which the agency had already researched and answered previously.
Other fumbles pointed out serious structural and implementation issues with entitlement programs.
The SNAP program, or food stamps, found that $2.6 billion in purchases were made using the personal data of dead people or minors.
And almost $11 million in Social Security benefits were stolen from rightful beneficiaries from 2014 to 2016.
Several of the "Federal Fumbles" focused on poor government management of the immigration system.
It showed that USCIS has spent more than 10 years and $3 billion trying to update its IT system and how it manages case work, slowing down processing for legal immigration.
It takes 450 days to hire one person in ICE, and 742 days to hire to one immigration judge.
Also, the 9/11 commission required the government to implement a system to track when people with a visa enter the country and when people leave the country, but that still has not been implemented.
"These issues sound simplistic to be able to solve, but they're real structural problems, both with hiring, and how things operate in these different agencies," said Lankford. "These need to be addressed."
Lankford said much of the problem with excessive spending stems from federal agencies spending money on areas other federal agencies already spend money on.
"You can't tell where there's duplication in the government until you go to GAO and do a request for them to study a specific area, 18 months later they can come back to you and give you information on that particular slice where there's duplication," said Lankford. "That should be something you can do in 18 seconds rather than 18 months."
To help combat poor management of federal agencies, Sen. Lankford and Sen. Clare McCaskill (D-MO) introduced legislation to allow agencies to send out online customer service surveys to get feedback on their service.
The bill, the Federal Agency Customer Experience Act, has already passed in the Senate.