My blog on a federal computer project that went six times overbudget prompted an expert on information technology (IT) to send me an interesting email. In this study on government failure and this study on cost overruns, I discussed some of the reasons why $100 million projects end up costing $200 million.
Politics and bureaucratic mismanagement drive up costs and generate failure in the federal government. More evidence comes from a Washington Post report today on a botched computer project at the Department of Homeland Security
New data show that worker compensation is rising faster in the federal government than in the private sector. After rapid growth in federal pay during the George W. Bush years, growth slowed from 2011 to 2013 after policymakers enacted a partial freeze on federal wages.
The longest running show on Broadway is The Phantom of the Opera at 27 years. The longest running show on television is Meet the Press at 68 years. The longest running show of waste in Washington is cost overruns on Pentagon weapon systems. That show has been ongoing for more than 220 years.
We have released a study looking at cost overruns on government projects, such as weapon systems, light rail systems, and VA hospital construction.
Cleaning up the government’s nuclear weapons sites has become a vast sinkhole for taxpayer dollars. The Department of Energy (DOE) spends about $6 billion a year on environmental clean up of federal nuclear sites. These sites were despoiled in the decades following World War II with little notice taken by Congress. Then during the 1980s, a series of reports lambasted DOE for its lax safety and environmental standards, and federal polices began to change.
Interstate 35 between San Antonio and Austin is congested, so obviously (to some people, at least) the solution is to run passenger trains between the two cities. Existing tracks are crowded with freight trains, so the Lone Star Rail District proposes to build a brand-new line for the freight trains and run passenger trains on the existing tracks. The total capital cost would be about $3 billion, up from just $0.6 billion in 2004 (which probably didn’t include the freight re-route).
Let’s celebrate some good news. When politicians can be convinced (or pressured) to exercise even a modest bit of spending restraint, it’s remarkably simple to get positive results.
A common feature of Obama administration economic policies is the use of government coercion. The Obamacare health law mandated that individuals buy insurance. The administration’s tax increases grabbed more earnings from millions of people. And federal agencies are imposing an increasing pile of labor, environmental, and financial regulations on businesses.