Cost Overruns

IRS IT: $2.4 Billion But Not World-Class

Perhaps the most suspicious thing about the disappearance of Lois Lerner’s emails is that the IRS is not a small business operation that cannot afford high-quality computer, email, and backup systems. It is a huge modern bureaucracy that has computer technology at the core of its operations. The IRS IT budget in 2014 is a massive $2.4 billion (page 149 here).

White House Helicopter Fleet

Did you know that the White House has a fleet of 19 helicopters? The Washington Post today discusses efforts to replace this fleet of aging Sikorsky’s with 21 new vehicles yet to be procured. The fleet is used by the president, vice president, and cabinet secretaries.

Government Infrastructure Is Inefficient Everywhere

An op-ed in the Wall Street Journal today indicates that Edwards’ Law of Cost Overruns is an international standard. If a politician says that a project will cost $100 million, it will end up costing $200 million or more.

New York Times Op-ed on Infrastructure

My op-ed in today’s New York Times has prompted numerous critical comments on theNYT website. Let me address some of them.

Edwards’ Law of Government Cost Overruns

Here is a rule of thumb to remember when you hear about a proposed government project: If a politician says that it will cost $1, it will end up costing $2 or more. Call it Edwards’ Law.

Another Cost Overrun on Government Infrastructure

From the Wall Street Journal, here’s the latest evidence on quality and efficiency in government infrastructure spending

Emergency UI Benefits: Reasons Against

The Senate is considering legislation to revive the emergency unemployment insurance program. These federally funded benefits were in place from mid-2008 to the end of 2013.

Federal policymakers like to spend money helping people in need, but there are large and less visible costs to such welfare legislation. Here are some reasons why new UI spending is not a good idea:

Posted by on January 3, 2014 - 1:04pm

Public Projects Carelessly Managed

On a drive back from a visit to Monticello yesterday, I listened to Jon Meacham’s biography of Thomas Jefferson. In 1784 Jefferson was interested in a project to improve trade routes to the West from the Potomac River. In a March 15 letter to George Washington, he wondered whether it might be a (state) government-supported project, but admitted one problem with that idea:

Update on Arlington’s $1 Million Bus Stop

It looks like the cost of Arlington County’s gold-plated bus stop will be even higher than a $1 million. According to the Washington Post, taxpayers will also have to pay for an “independent contractor to review the cost and design” of the Transit Taj Mahal in Northern Virginia.

Government Cost-Cutting Leads to Cost Overruns

The government can’t seem to do anything right! It can’t even streamline activities to cut costs without creating egregious cost overruns.

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