Wasteful Programs that Make You Want To Pull Your Hair Out

Tim Phillips

4/19/2013 2:53:00 PM - Tim Phillips

This week we finally reached Tax Freedom Day - the day after which American workers begin to make money for themselves and their families instead of the government. While no one begrudges making a reasonable contribution for necessary services, how many of us are confident that our wages earned over the past 108 days are being spent carefully and wisely by the federal government in Washington, D.C?

So while we all listen to politicians and government employee unions still bemoaning the modest cuts imposed by the Sequester, let's scroll through the Government Accountability Office's (GAO) annual report highlighting just some of the waste and redundant programs still funded by our tax dollars.

Wasteful Spending Program #1: $14 million on Catfish Inspections

Government doesn’t have a spending problem.”- President Obama, Jan. 2013

Not only does government have a spending problem, but with a budget shortfall estimated at $845 billion this year, we have a massive wasteful spending problem. Take for instance Catfish Inspections. The GAO reports that we could easily save $14 million annually by consolidating the overlapping inspection processes on Catfish.

The actual cost of our absolutely critical Catfish inspections are more than $100 million every year, but due to a system riddled with inefficiencies we’re throwing money down the stream. The United States Department of Agriculture, under a provision of the 2008 Farm Bill, has the power to inspect and create inspection programs for meat, poultry, and seafood. One inspection process, Catfish, has grown into three separate taxpayer-funded agencies each with overlapping research and responsibilities.

Wasteful Spending Program #2: $4 Billion by not buying in bulk

Deficit reduction is not a worthy goal.” – White House spokesman Jay Carney

Ask any big American family how they save money on groceries and household supplies, and they’ll probably pull out a Costco card. We understand that buying in bulk will reduce costs, but sadly our Federal Government doesn’t understand that basic tip for saving tax dollars. Instead each department or agency buys many of the same goods independently, dramatically reducing our national purchasing power and wastefully spending your tax dollars. The GAO reports that, “By simply buying together the critical agencies like the Departments of Defense, Homeland Security, Energy, and Veterans Affairs could save over $4 billion a year.”

Wasteful Spending Program #3: $82 million spent on 7 different camouflage uniforms

It’s almost a false argument to say that we have a spending problem.” – House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi

In 2002 the military began a change from two camouflage patterns to the seven service-specific camouflage uniforms, all with different colors and patterns which we have today. The camouflage uniforms look incredibly similar, yet because each branch of the military is developing its own uniforms they are spending nearly $82 million in the design, creation and acquisition of the different uniforms. Instead of the military branches working together, they are all moving separately. The GAO report found that consolidating the uniforms would be more efficient, better protect service members and save millions. During the sequester debate, we made it clear that providing for national defense was a legitimate and vital function of the US Government, but maintained that even the military could trim spending by finding and eliminating inefficiencies. The $82 million in overspending here seems like a great place to start.

Implementing just these three simple changes above would save $5 billion the very first year. With the hundreds of other reforms suggested by the GAO report there would be an annual savings of roughly $250 billion. As Senator Coburn said, “That’s three times what the sequester was. Just in waste, in duplication, in stupidity, and lack of efficiency and effectiveness by the federal government. (It) makes you want to pull your hair out.”

Well said Senator Coburn...well said.