The WasteWatcher: The Staff Blog of Citizens Against Government Waste

The WasteWatcher

The WasteWatcher is the staff blog of Citizens Against Government Waste (CAGW) and the Council for Citizens Against Government Waste (CCAGW). For questions, contact blog@cagw.org.




Bioterrorism Spending

After the 9/11 attacks and the deaths of five people exposed to anthrax spores sent through the mail in 2001, the federal government began pouring billions of dollars into biodefense research and development.  However, throwing money at a problem does not guarantee a solution; there must be proper follow-through and oversight to make sure the money is spent wisely. 

Like Father… Like Son?

For the past six years, Sen. Ted Stevens’ (R-Alaska) has put Alaska at the top of CAGW’s pork per capita list.  In 2006 alone, he secured a whopping $325 million in pork, or $489 per Alaskan resident.  Recent news reports show that his son, Ben Stevens, is trying to follow in his daddy’s profligate footsteps.

FEMA and Trading Spaces

When a participant goes on the popular Learning Channel show Trading Spaces, they have two days to redesign a room in the home of a friend or family member.  They must remain under budget throughout the process.  Conversely, when FEMA decides to remodel, it tends to extend projects indefinitely and ignore budget limitations.  Nonetheless, fans of the home improvement show might still enjoy FEMA’s project along the Gulf Coast.

Bridge to Nowhere Update

Even though the Bridge to Nowhere has gone nowhere fast since Congress stripped it of its federal earmark, outgoing Governor Frank Murkowski (R-Alaska) is still trying to keep the project alive. 

College Town Poverty – Ramen Noodles AGAIN?

It’s an early afternoon on a crisp fall day in an average college town.  In preparation for the game, young professionals are piling into local bars and restaurants to see their alma mater play.  The late risers are lining up at the numerous downtown coffee shops to inject some caffeine prior to kickoff.  After the game, there are more festivities – food, drinks, and celebration. 

Nothing seems out of the ordinary, until one learns that the federal government occasionally labels such towns as among the poorest in the country.  This backwards fact is made possible by the government’s formula that determines distribution of anti-poverty funds. 

Newark Mayor Takes Taxpayers for a Ride

With a salary of $186,000, one would think that the mayor of Newark would have no need for taxpayers to pay for his vacations.  Think again.  Even though former mayor Sharpe James had an annual travel expense budget of $25,000, he is currently under investigation for adding $150,000 for numerous expenses and exotic vacations.  The globe-trotting has been chronicled by The Star-Ledger of Newark. 

The Rail Subsidy That Could

Parents and children alike are familiar with the story, “The Little Engine That Could.”  Through perseverance and sheer determination, a small train engine pulled a train over a steep mountain even with the odds stacked against it and when other train engines didn’t think it possible.  It appears that Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.) is twisting the lessons of that book into a rail subsidy that could be the biggest taxpayer rip-off ever.  He helped to secure a $2.3 billion loan from the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) to expand and improve the Dakota, Minnesota, and Eastern Railroad (DM&E), which is used primarily to transport coal from Wyoming to Minnesota. 

Legal Services Nonprofit Wastes Tax Dollars

Free legal help is getting more expensive for taxpayers and much of the money is going to waste.

The Legal Services Corporation (LSC), which received $330.8 million in fiscal 2006, distributes money to 138 local nonprofit legal aid organizations across the country to help provide free legal services for the indigent.  However, the Associated Press reported in September that audits from the group’s internal inspector general, “Kirt” West, identified questionable spending practices among LSC board members.

A Little Rain, A Lot of Waste in Florida

How can a tempest that failed to arrive cost taxpayers $17 million?  That is the estimated price of the impact of Hurricane Ernesto on South Florida.  If you thought, as I had, that Ernesto struck the United States farther north and hardly affected the Sunshine State, you would be correct.  $17 million is the amount some counties in southern Florida are claiming they are entitled to, in order to recoup their preparation costs.

USPS Chief Living Large

The United States Postal Service (USPS) is fond of describing itself as a business, on par with some Fortune 100 companies.  However, a recent investigation by the USPS Office of Inspector General (OIG) into allegations of misconduct of one of its chief spokespersons, Vice-President for Public Affairs and Communications (PAC) Azeezaly Jaffer, graphically reveals just how far removed postal business operations are from those of any well-run, private sector corporation.

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