August 31, 2014

USDA Stimulus Programs ‘Inherently Not Shovel Ready’

On Friday, August 29, the Washington Free Beacon's Elizabeth Harrington reported that an audit of the so-called "Recovery Act" at the U.S. Department of Agriculture found that over five years, $5 billion was misspent. According to Harrington:

"More than five years after the stimulus was signed into law, a new audit reveals the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) spent nearly $5 billion in questionable costs and funded programs that were “inherently not shovel ready.”

"The Office of Inspector General (OIG) published a “lessons learned” audit on Wednesday, reviewing how well the USDA oversaw $28 billion in stimulus funds from the Recovery Act. The audit compiled results of over 80 reports conducted by the OIG. (emphasis added)

"“As a result of these reviews, we also reported monetary exceptions of over $5.1 billion, including $4.9 billion related to questionable or unsupported costs,” the audit said.

“Most programs that received Recovery Act funds were expected to quickly pump money into the economy by immediately executing infrastructure and labor intensive projects,” the OIG said. “These were known as ‘shovel ready’ projects.”

“However, our reviews discovered USDA encountered challenges because several of its programs were inherently not ‘shovel ready,’” they said."

Harrington adds. "The largest area of mismanagement of stimulus funds came from the Single Family Housing Loans and Grants program, which is meant to secure homeownership for low-income Americans in rural areas." She provides these added details:

"The stimulus provided loans for 17 borrowers who “had no history of stable and dependable income,” and six loans were for properties that had aboveground swimming pools, which was strictly prohibited under the law.

“From our statistical sample, we project that 1,772 loans, worth $208 million (22 percent of the universe), may have similar noncompliance issues related to ineligible borrowers and properties,” the audit said.

"Overall, the Rural Housing Service that oversaw the program provided $4.16 billion from the stimulus to ineligible recipients.

“We concluded that the controls were not always adequate to safeguard Recovery Act funds and ensure that funds were expended in a manner that minimized the risk of improper use,” the OIG said.

“Specifically, we identified ineligible borrowers who received loan guarantees, even though they did not demonstrate the ability to repay the loan, possessed incomes that exceeded program limits, possessed sufficient financial resources to obtain loans without a government guarantee, already owned adequate housing in their local commuting areas, or purchased homes that had swimming pools,” they said."

Get eady to weep and outraged about more government waste, fraud and abuse as Harrington concludes:

"The USDA also had problems monitoring the $19.8 million in increased benefits for food stamps provided by the stimulus. “Specifically, the audit concluded that four of six selected States did not fully comply with Recovery Act provisions for transparency and accountability,” the audit said.

"Of the nearly $5 billion in unsupported costs, the USDA has recovered only $11 million. The OIG still has seven open investigations for fraud and abuse of Recovery Act funds."

All that "shovel ready" seems to have been nothing more than government bureaucrats shoveling manure. What is needed, however, is for voters to get out their shovels, and get rid of the tax-and-spend politicians and their bureaucratic underlings. The most important of the "lessons learned" from the IG audit seems to be the federal government wastes 18.2% ($5.1 billion/$28 billion) of the taxpayers' hard-earned tax dollars entrusted to the politicians and bureaucrats in Washington, D.C. What a scam!

Taxpayers reading Growls who are upset that Congress seems to do nothing but authorize more waste, fraud, and abuse of their hard-earned tax dollars are urged to contact their members of Congress. Information is available at Thomas (use left-hand column). Readers living in Virginia's Arlington County, should contact:

  • Senator Mark Warner (D) -  write to him or call (202) 224-2023
  • Senator Tim Kaine (D) -- write to him or call (202) 224-4024
  • Representative Jim Moran (D) -- write to him or call (202) 225-4376
And, tell them ACTA sent you. Kudos, too, to Elizabeth Harrington and the Washington Free Beacon.

August 30, 2014

Why Punish Taxpayers and/or Metro Users?

In an online story, one week ago on Saturday, August 23, at the Washington Times website, Phillip Swarts reported that "D.C. Metro will pay $4 million fine for abusing government grants. "According to Swarts:

"D.C.’s Metro system paid a $4.2 million settlement to the federal government after it used taxpayer money to help a favored contractor, the Justice Department announced this week.

"Metro gave a private business a $14 million contract, without any competition or bidding from other companies, government records show, violating the Federal Transit Administration’s policies for the use of grants and funds.

“The American people have a right to know that their government is following rules and regulations in spending the taxpayers’ money,” said Ronald Machen, the U.S. Attorney for D.C.

"Metro officials could not be reached for comment Friday."

Why didn't Metro or the federal government go after either Metro's contracting officer who awarded the grant or the senior executive official at Metro responsible for contracts and grants. Either or both of those officials presumably should have known the contract/grant was awarded improperly. And shouldn't an official at the Federal Transit Administration, who was responsible for awarding the grant, have done more to assure the grant was properly awarded?

As is, the burden of the settlement falls on the backs of Metro riders and/or taxpayers who subsidize Metro.

I have asked Arlington County Board member Mary Hynes, a member of the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (Metro) Board, for comment, and will "update" this Growls with their comment as appropriate.

Growls readers, who are concerned about this issue, are urged to contact the Arlington County Board. You can e-mail the County Board by clicking-on the following link, or call them:

  • Call the Board office at (703) 228-3130

August 29, 2014

A Thought on Greed

“I have never understood why it is "greed" to want to keep the money you have earned but not greed to want to take somebody else's money.”

~ Thomas Sowell

Source: GoodReads.com.

Cool NOTE: ElGrowlerGrande has returned; hope to be growling on a daily basis for the foreseeable future..

August 2014
          1 2
3 4 5 6 7 8 9
10 11 12 13 14 15 16
17 18 19 20 21 22 23
24 25 26 27 28 29 30
31            

The ACTA Watchdog

Latest Issue of The ACTA Watchdog

Join ACTA

Links

Archives

August 2014
July 2014
June 2014
May 2014
April 2014
March 2014
February 2014
January 2014
December 2013
November 2013
October 2013
September 2013
August 2013
July 2013
June 2013
May 2013
April 2013
March 2013
February 2013
January 2013
December 2012
November 2012
October 2012
September 2012
August 2012
July 2012
June 2012
May 2012
April 2012
March 2012
February 2012
January 2012
December 2011
November 2011
October 2011
September 2011
August 2011
July 2011
June 2011
May 2011
April 2011
March 2011
February 2011
January 2011
December 2010
November 2010
October 2010
September 2010
August 2010
July 2010
June 2010
May 2010
April 2010
March 2010
February 2010
January 2010
December 2009
November 2009
October 2009
September 2009
August 2009
July 2009
June 2009
May 2009
April 2009
March 2009
February 2009
January 2009
December 2008
November 2008
October 2008
September 2008
August 2008
July 2008
June 2008
May 2008
April 2008
March 2008
February 2008
January 2008
December 2007
November 2007
October 2007
September 2007
August 2007
July 2007
June 2007
May 2007
April 2007
March 2007
February 2007
January 2007
December 2006
November 2006
October 2006
September 2006
August 2006
July 2006
June 2006
May 2006
April 2006
March 2006
February 2006
January 2006
December 2005
November 2005
October 2005
September 2005
August 2005
July 2005
June 2005
May 2005
April 2005
March 2005
February 2005
January 2005
December 2004
November 2004
October 2004
September 2004
August 2004
July 2004
June 2004
April 2004
March 2004
February 2004
January 2004
December 2003
October 2003
September 2003
August 2003
July 2003
June 2003
May 2003
April 2003
March 2003
February 2003
Creative Commons License
This weblog is licensed under a Creative Commons License.

Items in Growls are written by individual ACTA members and do not necessarily represent the views of the Arlington County Taxpayers Association, Inc. Please send comments about Growls to The Growl Meister