The president’s new budget proposes to end NASA’s Constellation program, a Bush initiative intended to put humans back on the moon by 2020. But Obama’s $3.8 trillion budget still goes to the moon figuratively—if you stacked 3.8 trillion one dollar bills, the pile would reach the moon with 20,000 miles to spare!
The Taxpayers’ Alliance has published a new study examining a sample of 240 government capital projects in Britain, including weapons systems, highway projects, computer upgrades, health care spending, and other items. The results mirror the serious cost overrun problems we have in the U.S. federal government.
Benjamin Franklin said: “In this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes.” I would add a third certainty: cost overruns at the Pentagon. The Government Accountability Office recently reported that the Pentagon’s space program is facing multi-billion dollar cost overruns and multi-year delays.
The Department of Defense’s Defense Contract Audit Agency is responsible for performing all contract audits at the department. Unfortunately, the agency seems to have developed an excessively cozy relationship with the contractors that it is supposed to be overseeing. That is bad news for taxpayers because of the massive size of DoD’s contracting activities.
In 1798, President John Adams signed a law that required the owners of American ships to withhold 20 cents a month for each crewman’s pay and to forward the money to customs offices in various ports. Customs officers were required to forward the money to the secretary of the Treasury, who would use the money to pay the hospital bills of ailing sailors. The funding also supported a network of marine hospitals.