Monday, April 10, 2017

What's half a trillion dollars of taxpayer money, anyway?

If President Trump is looking to reduce the size of the federal government, I think he could do a lot worse than can at least half the bureaucrats at the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).  The department's Inspector-General reported last month (link is to an Adobe Acrobat document in .PDF format):

What We Audited and Why

In accordance with the Chief Financial Officers Act of 1990, as amended, we are required to annually audit the consolidated financial statements of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). HUD reissued its fiscal years 2016 and 2015 (restated) consolidated financial statements due to pervasive material errors that we identified. Our objective was to express an opinion on the fairness of HUD’s consolidated financial statements in accordance with U.S. generally accepted accounting principles (GAAP) applicable to the Federal Government. This report presents our reissued independent auditor’s report on HUD’s fiscal years 2016 and 2015 (restated) consolidated financial statements, including an update to our report on HUD’s internal controls.

What We Found

The total amounts of errors corrected in HUD’s notes and consolidated financial statements were $516.4 billion and $3.4 billion, respectively. There were several other unresolved audit matters, which restricted our ability to obtain sufficient, appropriate evidence to express an opinion. These unresolved audit matters relate to (1) the Office of General Counsel’s refusal to sign the management representation letter, (2) HUD’s improper use of cumulative and first-in, first-out budgetary accounting methods of disbursing community planning and development program funds, (3) the $4.2 billion in nonpooled loan assets from Ginnie Mae’s stand-alone financial statements that we could not audit due to inadequate support, (4) the improper accounting for certain HUD assets and liabilities, and (5) material differences between HUD’s subledger and general ledger accounts. This audit report contains 11 material weaknesses, 7 significant deficiencies, and 5 instances of noncompliance with applicable laws and regulations.

There's more at the link.  Bold, underlined text is my emphasis.

Any guesses as to where at least some of that misreported and/or misallocated money went to?  There are plenty of indicators.  The first and most obvious is massive, systematic mismanagement of funds.  A few years ago, the Washington Post ran a series titled 'Million-Dollar Wasteland:  An ongoing investigation into HUD’s affordable housing construction program'.  It wasn't kidding.  Click the link to read the articles for yourself.  In a devastating interactive map, the Post summarized its findings:

The Washington Post analyzed major construction and renovation projects funded by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, a total of 5,100 development deals worth $3.2 billion. The Post found that nearly 700 projects awarded $400 million showed signs of being delayed, primarily because they were launched years ago or had not drawn federal money in months or years but were still listed as open and incomplete on HUD's books. An additional 600 projects had not drawn any of the money allocated, tying up $250 million.

$650 million out of $3.2 billion - that's more than 20% of the funds involved.  So much for government efficiency . . . and so much for our tax dollars at work!

Another factor is that the Obama administration appears to have regarded HUD as an 'agent for change' to pursue its agenda of radical social and cultural reorientation.  This included using HUD to fund community organizations such as ACORN (in violation of a Congressional funding ban, and supporting new organizations founded by ACORN to get around such bans);  policies to reshape neighborhoods according to the mantra of 'diversity';  and the use of HUD (among other federal government departments) to aid, abet and 'funnel' third-party funds to favored community organizations and political pressure groups.

So . . . with more than half a trillion dollars accounted for in error, how much of that was misused and/or misappropriated?  How much of it was spent on political activism, rather than housing for the poor?  And where, by the way, is the constitutional justification for the federal government spending even one single dollar of taxpayer money on housing?

Heads need to roll.  Lots of heads.  And there needs to be prosecution of anyone and everyone at HUD (and its affiliate organizations) responsible for any criminal activity.  I daresay there are more than a few of them.



Anonymous said...

Five Yankee dollars say everyone comes out with a single firing or jail term. The Machine protects it's own. Don't be surprised to hear ,"I was only following orders."


BFR said...

+5 for the above.

Nothing will happen whatsoever. Too many of every party are complicit for anything to happen. This will go away just like it always does.

MrGarabaldi said...

Hey Peter;

Unfortunately nothing will be done, Too many people of the government views the money as "their money" not the peoples money, and they will spend it as necessary to ensure that they keep their power and goodies rolling in. A major mindset needs to happen. In the past when the government screws up, nobody get punished,look at the spill into the rivers in the midwest last year as an example, the EPA screwed the pooch and nobody got punished, they are above the law..but let an individual or a company break the law, then the forces of government will be used to crush them.