Every two years, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) releases its so-called high-risk list. This is the list of areas of federal spending that are vulnerable to waste, fraud and abuse. And, this year, just 48 hours after the President’s State of the Union address, GAO released their update for 2013. Titled, “High-Risk Series: An Update,” which details 30 high-risk areas of the federal government. Two areas were removed and two new areas were added to the high-risk list. The two areas that were removed included “Management of Interagency Contracting,” and “Internal Revenue Service Business Systems Modernization.” The two new areas added to this list were “limiting the Federal Government’s Fiscal Exposure by Better Managing Climate Change Risks” and “Mitigating Gaps in Weather Satellite Data.” With 28 “repeat offenders,” the list clearly shows that there is quite a bit of work to do. With all the talk of deficits, debt, and the sequester, there couldn’t be a better time to discuss options on making the government more efficient and save taxpayer dollars.
When the U.S. government decided to end NASA’s space shuttle program, it shouldn’t have come as a surprise that some dramatic alterations were to follow. Chief among them was that NASA’s program would transition from what had been a government-run program to an environment where the private sector’s role in space exploration was greatly increased. Given the sweeping effects of ending the shuttle program, NASA should have prepared itself to not only anticipate and identify potential changes, but also be ready to respond appropriately. Unfortunately, NASA was short-sighted and failed to develop a long-term strategy to confront the termination of its space shuttle program. A recent USA Today article explained that the general public may have been unaware of plans to retire NASA’s shuttle program, but this surely was not the case for anyone at NASA. Not only did NASA know that the government’s shuttle program was nearing a close, it also had more than an ample amount of time to prepare for an alternative course of action. Despite this, the agency still lacked the foresight to employ a private company to serve the function of transporting our astronauts to space. As a result, U.S. astronauts were left no other choice than to catch a ride with Russians to travel to the International Space Station (ISS) during a July 14 launch.
As the second installment of the Taxpayers Protection Alliance's Trick or Treat extravaganza, this one highlights defense spending but in essence is brought to you by the Department of Defense and the Super Committee. As part of the August 2, 2011 deal to raise the debt ceiling, the Joint Committee on Deficit Reduction (aka the “Super Committee”) was created to come up with an additional $1.5 trillion in deficit reduction. If the Super Committee doesn’t come up with recommendations for deficit reduction there will be across-the-board spending cuts and that won’t bode well for the Pentagon. Any cuts in Defense spending must be done wisely to ensure the safety and protection of our troops. Today’s Tricks or Treats should be a guide for the Super Committee as they finalize their plans to find spending cuts. WARNING!! As always, we advise strong parental guidance because some material may not be suitable for children since they are the ones that will ultimately be paying for these tricks.
The Government Accountability Office (GAO) just released a report on the Air Force’s Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle (EELV) program that is problematic for taxpayers and space launches. According to a fact sheet by Vandenberg Air Force Base, “EELV is designed to improve our nation's access to space by making space launch vehicles more affordable and reliable.” Not so fast. The EELV program budgets have quadrupled since the Pentagon allowed Boeing and Lockheed to merge their launch business into a single monopoly provider, the United Launch Alliance, in 2006. And now ULA is pushing the Pentagon to write the company a $15 billion check for a five-year, sole source deal that will, according to GAO, commit DOD to more rockets than it needs at a higher price than it needs to pay.
Leading up to the election last year there was quite a bit of talk about eliminating earmarks from the federal budget so Democrats and Republicans agreed to a two year earmark moratorium. Taxpayers weren’t sure if it was a just a ploy to get re-elected or if Congress had truly seen the light and decided that it was time to end the practice of earmarking. In April, the Taxpayers Protection Alliance uncovered earmarks in the fiscal year 2011 NASA and Department of Defense spending bills indicating that Congress had not been broken of the bad habit of earmarking.
After seven extensions to the last transportation authorization bill, the 2005 Transportation Equity Act: A Legacy for Users (TEA-LU), Congress is poised to pass a transportation authorization bill in 2011. The recent talk about spending cuts and shunning earmarks will make this authorization bill even more interesting than previous ones. A transportation authorization bill is important to enable the federal government to fund the transportation needs of the country. Unfortunately, over the last 20 years, transportation authorization bills have been politicized and earmarked without regard to transportation needs. A recent editorial by the new Chairman of the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, Rep. John Mica (R-Fla.), is either good news for taxpayers or just more rhetoric.
The expose of the $311 million in earmarks for the Department of Defensefor fiscal year 2011 has kept the Taxpayers Protection Alliance (TPA) quite busy. Catch TPA President David Williams talking about the earmarks and federal budget issues on WHO in Des Moines, Iowa; The Lars Larson Show; WWL in New Orleans, La.; WLW in Cincinnati, Ohio; WBAL in Baltimore, Maryland; and WSPD in Toledo, Ohio.
The Taxpayers Protection Alliance (TPA) today uncovered 16 earmarks worth $311 million in the Navy Research, Development, Test and Evaluation Program. This is the second major TPA finding in a series of reports on government waste, fraud and abuse. The first report unearthed $3 billion in earmarks for NASA.