American Elephants

Is Anybody In The Federal Government Accountable? by The Elephant's Child

Accountability. Good word. You have to be responsible for your own actions. Hard to believe, but we have a Government Accountability Office (GAO) that is trying to make our government accountable. In theory each person and each department will stand up and say, yes I’m in charge of that and I screwed up. Uh huh. Not so’s you would notice. But that’s why we have the GAO, to keep track of duplication and waste. The Inspectors General are part of this office.

So we had, as you know, The Sequester. You surely know that President Obama has gone to great efforts to make sure you know that there is a sequester and the Republicans are entirely responsible. (Did I just explain accountability? The Sequester originated in the Oval Office, and was entirely Obama’s idea and attempt to trap the Republicans into giving him more money to spend). The President is not accountable, nothing is ever his fault, and his efforts to make the public feel the pain of every last cent of the $85 billion in sequester cuts aren’t working. People are supposed to freak out and demand that Congress give the president the money he wants so he can spend it.

The Government Accountability Office (GAO)  reports they have found 162 areas where services are duplicated or money is being wasted in the federal government. The annual cost of these programs is estimated at roughly $250 billion— that’s three times the amount involved in the sequester, which is only a reduction in the increases for next year, not the present budget. One would think that eliminating government waste would be more popular than ending White House tours and locking National Park bathrooms. Here’s some of what The GAO found:

— Renewable Energy Initiatives Federal support for wind and solar energy, biofuels, and other renewable energy sources has been estimated at several billion dollars a year — is fragmented because 23 agencies implemented hundreds of renewable energy initiatives in fiscal year 2010 — the latest year for which GAO developed these data.

The GAO has identified 82 federal wind-related projects being implemented by nine different agencies in fiscal year 2011. The 7 dozen initiatives are split up across agencies, and have overlapping characteristics, and duplicative financial support. Big wasteful Bureaucracy.

Sixty-eight of the 82 programs overlapped with at least one other because of shared characteristics. They were administered by Energy, Interior, Agriculture, Commerce and Treasury. Why are all these departments involved in wind projects? These five departments collectively implemented 73 of the 82 proposals. Does the left hand know what the right hand is doing, and are they doing the same things?

The federal government should get out of the business of betting taxpayer dollars on energy projects. They should let the American people vote with their pocketbooks on which forms of energy and which projects should succeed.

Flushing good money after bad, the government has increased the production tax credit because of inflation, and wind, geothermal and biomass projects will now get 2.3 cents per kilowatt-hour of electricity produced, up from 2.2 cents. The IRS keeps updating the tax credit. The tax break costs taxpayers about $1 billion a year, and the new increase adds another $545 million in support for the wind industry. Just as the wind industry cannot exist without subsidy, it cannot exist without support from fossil fueled power plants.  The wind is intermittent and requires full-time support from a dependable power source.

— The 2008 Farm Bill assigned the USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service responsibility for examining and inspecting catfish and for creating a catfish inspection program. Repealing this provision would save millions of dollars annually without affecting the safety of catfish intended for human consumption.

— The Department of Defense’s approach to combat uniforms is fragmented. Developing and acquiring uniforms could be more efficient, and better protect service members resulting in $82 million in savings in development and acquisition costs through collaboration among the military services.


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