Monday, July 30, 2018

Negligence, or deliberately misleading the taxpayers?

I note with displeasure that a measure designed to show us how much our government is spending is almost completely useless, because that same government isn't updating it properly.

A new bipartisan Senate report revealed more than half of the government's public data on federal spending is wrong, as the website is riddled with errors.

. . .

The subcommittee reviewed over two dozen inspector general reports and determined 55 percent of the spending data submitted to was inaccurate. The errors accounted for $240 billion in spending during the second quarter of 2017, according to the report.

The Digital Accountability and Transparency Act of 2014, or DATA Act, required federal spending to be easily accessible to the public through a searchable website, which became ... but agencies are not meeting their requirements to submit accurate, consistent, and reliable data on its spending.

The agency in charge of—the Treasury Department—is among the worst culprits, as 96 percent of its own data is inaccurate.

. . .

Nearly every department and agency had high error rates. The State Department reported an 83.6 percent accuracy error rate, accounting for over $3 billion worth of spending.

The Department of Housing and Urban Development failed to report $17.9 billion, and $37.8 billion of the U.S. Department of Agriculture's spending data was inaccurate—an error rate of 97.1 percent.

The inaccuracies included the food stamp program, or SNAP, which spent $68 billion last year.

", however, only published awards totaling $160 million, less than 1 percent of the program's spending for 2017," the report said.

There's more at the link.

One might argue, charitably, that bureaucrats are simply too busy with other important work to keep the Web site updated as it should be.  On the other hand, one can't help but wonder whether those same bureaucrats would prefer us not to know where, when and how our taxpayer dollars are being spent . . . and what better way to ensure that than to obfuscate, obscure and evade the proper reporting of expenditure?

I smell several large, odoriferous bureaucratic rats.



Divemedic said...

240 billion in a single quarter? A trillion or so a year? That is a third of Federal spending.

Old NFO said...

Sigh... No real surprise. The swamp doesn't want us to know what is being spent where...

Jess said...

The best solution is to completely remove the funds from any agency that can't balance their books. The savings would probably lead to the elimination of the debt.

Judy said...

And my dad as a DOD employee had to account for every penny of the money that was allocated for his shop. And then I think about the harassment every taxpayer goes through with IRS. Somebody needs to go to jail.

But, come to think of it, I can't get Medicare to get my supposed secondary insurance cleared off my Medicare records so why should I be surprised about this display of ineptitude?

takirks said...

What's really messed up with all this is that the situation probably is probably unfixable. Most of this money is entirely theoretical, because nobody really tracks a lot of it, and the transactions that are happening are illusory and opaque.

We went for a couple of friggin' years using fund cites that were actually non-existent. To the tune of several million dollars, cumalatively. They'd been populated in the system, but never really actually, y'know, funded with real money... Funds were disbursed, and transferred, but they didn't actually exist in the real world--It was all an illusion. At the end of the day, I never found out how the f**k they reconciled it, but when they tell me that DOD hasn't, and probably can't actually balance it's books, I think back to that situation, and just laugh.

The whole thing is an elaborate house of cards, a facade... If the Chinese were to ever demand repayment for the bonds and other notes they hold...? LOL--Good luck collecting, boys. Y'all are f**ked. You've been lending money based on the good faith and credit of the United States government, and entity run by people who can't even balance their own damn checkbooks.

Only thing that's funnier is that the Chinese themselves have incredible problems with their financial systems, and those are probably in even worse shape than ours. Past a certain point, this kind of thing is all illusional, anyway. It's a damn game we play with ourselves, and the money isn't really real. Hasn't been, for a long damn time. So long as the faith in the system keeps up, the illusion will be maintained, but the minute people actually realize what's been going on...? The party ends; the house of cards collapses, and the whole damn thing comes to an end.

I think this may be a reason why the ancient Hebrews had the custom and tradition of the Jubilee, to be honest. We're gonna have to do something similar, and probably fairly soon.

C. S. P. Schofield said...

I've a possibility to add to the mix;

An Uncle In Law used to be in procurement for the Navy. From his stories, and from columns that Freed Reed wrote about the military and the government in general during the 1980's, I can tell you that any time a government agency does something that looks fiscally irresponsible, there's a good chance that there's actual Legislation that requires that they do something stupid. Not always. But enough of the time that it distorts the entire process.

Example; The Navy is buying VERY expensive bolts. They cost (say) $10,000 a piece. What could possibly excuse such wastefulness? Well, they are the main bolt in the nose gear of a carrier plane that Congress k=just extended the operating life of. When the Navy bought the planes they expected to be using them for (say) two decades. The nose-gear bolts wear out fast (carrier landings are hard on the equipment). So the Navy bought two decades worth of bolts. Now they need another decade's worth. The machinery that used to make the bolts was junked nearly two decades ago. So they need to pay for the bolts AND THE MACHINERY TO MAKE THEM. Why didn't they over-order two decades ago? Congressional rules.

Still probably cheaper than whatever hanger-queen Lockheed or whoever is facing to sell to Congress.

Why don't the different agencies mesh accounting practices? My bet os that they each have slightly different mandated systems, from slightly different Congresses. Oh, not ALL of them. Just enough to throw a spanner in the works.

Congress is full of people who are expert at getting elected, and think that makes them expert at everything else. When you think about it, it's a wonder and a blessing that anything gets done, and a mercy we don't get all the government we pay for.