American Elephants

Trapped In An Endless Bureaucratic Maze! by The Elephant's Child


The United States government paid for a study to analyze a Defense Department study that evaluated a series of other studies. This is true. How much taxpayer money did the government spend in conducting a study that evaluated  a study that evaluated a series of other studies? The government does not know.

In May 2012, ABC News first reported details on this ridiculous case of government waste and inefficiency:

The Pentagon was inundated with so many studies in 2010 that it commissioned a study to determine how much it cost to produce all those studies.

Now the Government Accountability Office has reviewed the Pentagon’s study and concluded in a report this week that it’s a flop.

The study of a study of studies began in 2010 when Defense Secretary Robert Gates complained that his department was “awash in taskings for reports and studies.” He wanted to know how much they cost.

Two years later, the Pentagon review is still continuing, which prompted Congress to ask the GAO to look over the Pentagon’s shoulder. What they found lacked military precision…

The cost of the study of the study of the studies was not available from the GAO.

The original article from abc is here.

What does one do with a report like this? Probably you snort derisively and think unpleasant words about the federal government. But there are constantly things like this, and nobody does anything, nobody gets on the phone to call their congressman, we just let it drift because it is so — usual. How about keeping a little file of stuff the government does that offends you, and taking it with you when your Congressman holds a Town Hall meeting? Those files grow fat pretty quickly if you are paying attention, and how else are they to know that we are offended by the proliferation of waste and fraud.


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And that’s just THIS study (disclosure: I’ve been contacted by the people doing this audit… I work as a contractor designing tactical and strategic training scenarios for the DoD (principally the USMC) and other agencies involved with security functions (short form – I design war games)). There was a similar study before this one, and another audit that was being done on research studies being done by universities paid for with government grants.

Remember David Stockman, Reagan’s head of the OMB in his first term? He commissioned a similar study in early 1982 – it was still being conducted when GHW Bush was sworn in six years later (this was the one that led to the discovery of the Pentagon paying $400 for a hammer and $1800 for a toilet seat).

And the thing that annoys me the most about all these studies (none of which are conducted with “military precision”: more like the Keystone Kops) is what happens when they get published: mostly nothing. Oh, some reforms get instituted, some accounting procedures change, Senator Proxmire would give out a Golden Fleece Award (I think Tom Coburn does this now), but a lot of the waste stays entrenched. Any number of times I’ve had lunch with someone in government… I’m happy with Red Robin or Famous Dave’s (average lunch check for two people = $30-35 incl. tip), they’ll suggest Ruth’s Cris Steakhouse (average lunch ticket for two around $80 incl. tip). I’ll ride the Metro, they want to hire a car service (not to say I’m a major paragon of virtue – my preferred hotels are either the Key Bridge Marriott or the Courtyard by the Navy Yard, and I have been known to write off gas charges for my Grand Cherokee driving to DC to visit my family that lives up there – but I do try to save where I can).

And all of this leads to Nancy Pelosi and Obama and the rest of the Democrats (and some Republicans) and their laughable claims that there’s just nothing in the budget to cut out. It’s really like Sean Connery in “The Untouchables”: Everyone KNOWS where it is, it’s that no one wants to cross the boss.


Comment by Lon Mead

Tom Coburn has been doing them, and his waste book, though full, barely scratches the surface. He’s leaving Congress very shortly. His prostate cancer has returned, his insurance dropped the oncologist who was treating him, thank you ObamaCare, so he’s paying for his oncologist out of his own pocket. Good Man. I hope someone will take on the waste and fraud publication after him. Someone always does. They know it’s bad, but perhaps not how very bad it is. You could have a very large book on the EPA alone.

It was the $1800 toilet seat that became famous. All bureaucracies get this way, it’s the nature of the beast, but it is much worse now that there has been so much unionization of the bureaucracy. The IRS scandal is a prime example of that. The books that will be written after this administration are going to be VERY interesting.


Comment by The Elephant's Child

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