It’s another day and another cost overrun in the federal government. This time it’s the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Sentinel project, which is supposed to create a new web-based electronic case management system for agents and analysts. Sentinel was projected to cost $425 million and be completed by December 2009. Instead, Sentinel is over-budget and behind schedule.
Florida Times-Union reporter Matt Dixon deserves kudos for his detailed expose of Congresswoman Corrine Brown’s (D-FL) corruption-tainted earmarking. Since 2008, Brown has sought millions for a non-profit in Jacksonville that employs a lobbying outfit that just happens to have Brown’s daughter Shantrel on its staff.
A poll released this week by the Washington Post found that 52 percent of Americans think federal workers are overpaid and 49 percent said they thought federal workers work “less hard” than private sector workers. Also, 75 percent said that federal workers receive better pay and benefits than similar private sector employees.
The public is concerned that governments are providing excessively generous compensation to their workers. Attention has focused on the high salaries and benefits of federal civilian employees and the often lavish pensions paid to state and local workers.
While the Department of Housing and Urban Development is the federal agency responsible for most housing subsidies, the departments of Veterans Affairs and Agriculture also subsidize homeownership. In fact, despite the problems caused by federal policies to put people in homes with little skin in the game, the VA and USDA continue to facilitate zero-downpayment mortgages.
The New York Times took a look at people who voluntarily send money to Washington in order to help pay down the federal debt. Last year, the Bureau of the Public Debt received $3.1 million in such donations. Looking at the federal budget, I found a total of $241 million in “gifts and contributions” for fiscal year 2010.
The Wall Street Journal reports that the agricultural sector is recovering nicely while the rest of the private sector continues to struggle. The counter-cyclical nature of some farm subsidy programs means that the taxpayer bill for the year could be cut in half to only about $12 billion.
As I recently discussed, not only does the federal Head Start program have a fraud problem, it has patently failed in its mission to help children from low-income families succeed later in life.
A study from the American Institutes of Research finds that federal and state governments have wasted billions of dollars on subsidies for students who didn’t make it past their first year in college. The federal total for first-year college drop outs was $1.5 billion from 2003 to 2008.
If you believe in a higher power, then I’ve got evidence for you that God has a sense of humor. Last week, the American Postal Workers Union, which represents more than 200,000 workers, had to extend its elections for national officers because … wait for it … thousands of ballots got lost in the mail.