Making Unique Observations in a Very Cluttered World

Tuesday, 17 December 2013

Wasted: U.S. Feds pay to collect human urine, educate Hollywood movie directors -

Wasted: U.S. Feds pay to collect human urine, educate Hollywood movie directors - 

The Pentagon spent more than $300 million on a battlefield blimp that didn’t work, finally canceling the project earlier this year at a near-total loss of the taxpayer money invested in the project, according to Sen. Tom Coburn’s latest report on government waste.
The 2013 installment of Mr. Coburn’s Wastebook suggests that despite recent belt-tightening, the administration has still found new ways to squander money:
• $15,000 to collect thousands of gallons of human urine and test it as a hay field fertilizer.
• $5 million for new hand-blown crystal stemware, paid by the State Department, just days before the government shutdown.
• $65 million of Hurricane Sandy emergency relief money that New York and New Jersey spent on television ads promoting tourism.

• $124,955 to build a 3-D printer to make pizzas for NASA.
• $566,000 paid by the U.S. Postal Service to a “futurist,” Faith Popcorn, to try to envision a viable future for the post office.
• $1.5 million spent by the FBI each year to review Hollywood producers and writers on how to portray the agency in movies.
The book is being released Tuesday morning, just hours before Mr. Coburn and fellow senators are expected to vote on a budget agreement that will actually boost spending in 2014, going back on a 2011 deal that was supposed to limit discretionary spending to less than $1 trillion.
“When it comes to spending your money, those in Washington tend to see no waste, speak no waste and cut no waste,” Mr. Coburn said in presenting his report.
His 177-page, meticulously footnoted report contains nearly $30 billion in money that was wasted or spent on questionable projects. This year, with both a spending-related government shutdown and a major fight over the automatic budget sequesters, Mr. Coburn said the wasteful projects should draw even more attention.
The waste he identifies ranges from big-ticket items that are perennial problems — such as the $3.5 billion paid to federal employees who have been identified as tax cheats — to the tiny problems, such as the $40,810 the government spent on a Denver museum dedicated to miniature toys and dolls.
The Defense Department, which has been pleading with Congress to boost its funding and which is getting a major increase in the new budget deal, comes in for particular criticism from Mr. Coburn.
“DOD grounded the Air Force Thunderbirds and Navy Blue Angels, yet still spent $631.4 million to construct aircraft they never intended to fly,” the Oklahoma Republican said.
The biggest item was $7 billion in equipment in Afghanistan that the Pentagon says it will destroy rather than bring home or give away, feeling it doesn’t have a use for the materials back here and doesn’t want to turn them over to allies.

Mr. Coburn also found $10 million spent by the Army National Guard on Superman movie tie-ins, even as plans were being made to cut the strength of the Guard by 8,000 soldiers.

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