Thursday, July 21, 2011

"Waste Not, Want Not"

The old Ben Franklin adage, is apparently one with which our government is unfamiliar. Just within the past few days, three major wasteful decisions have come to light.

The first is in the State Department. This wasn't just a wasteful decision, but an unethical, immoral, and I have to hope, illegal one. Within the State Department was a woman named Kathleen McGrade.The Daily Caller did some good, old fashioned investigative reporting on her, and guess what they discovered? Ms. McGrade had funneled $52 MILLION of yours and my taxpaying dollars to her daughter, and her secret husband. I am not making this up, and neither is the Daily Caller:
[snip] Kathleen McGrade helped their company, Sterling Royale Group, win 43 federally funded contracts over the last few years.

McGrade acted as the Contracting Officer (CO) for awards to Sterling Royale Group. McGrade’s husband, Brian Collinsworth, serves as the company’s Vice President. McGrade’s daughter, J.L. (Jennifer) Herring, is its president and CEO.

When TheDC first reached Collinsworth for comment, he denied being married to McGrade. “She is the CO on our contracts, but we are not married in any way, shape or form. That’s kind of funny, but, okay,” Collinsworth said, adding that he and McGrade have no relationship “other than a professional one of a CO to a company.”

Collinsworth also denied that Herring is McGrade’s daughter, and his stepdaughter.[snip] (Click here to read the rest.)

Surprise, surprise, Collinsworth is a big liar. They are indeed married.

Fortunately, the State Department quickly did the right thing - they fired Ms. McGrade:
[snip] “Upon learning of the allegations, the Department immediately relieved Ms. McGrade of her responsibilities,” Laine said in an email. “Subsequently, the Department instructed her company that her employment at the Department is terminated.”

McGrade worked as a federal government contractor, handling the disbursement of taxpayer money for the State Department to other contractors. She worked on-site at the State Department in the office of Overseas Building Operations.[snip] (Click here to read the rest.)

Well, that's just terrific, but, what about our money? And why hasn't she been brought up on charges? Forced to pay restitution? Something? The State Department is being mum on any further action, according to the article. Oh, well, okay then. That's fine - not.

Second, we have the ten year lease signed by representatives of the SEC. Oh, this is a doozy. The Wall Street Journal has the story:
[snip] Chairman Mary L. Schapiro has been under fire for the SEC’s decision last year to sign a 10-year lease valued at more than $500 million for 900,000 square feet of space in a D.C. office building known as the Constitution Center. A recent report on the lease by the SEC’s Office of Inspector General found that the SEC unnecessarily limited the locations it could consider because it overestimated the amount of space it needed. The report cited one employee who described the process used to calculate the space needs as a “`WAG,’ (wild-ass guess) and a ‘back of the envelope calculation.’”

The SEC made its projections based in part on the increased responsibilities related to the Dodd-Frank financial-overhaul law but also on budget projections that had not yet been approved. After the anticipated budget increase didn’t materialize, the SEC determined it would not need the space in the building, which is owned by David Nassif Associates.[snip]

Oops. Yep, they signed the lease, but then didn't need the space after all, so...Good grief. These are the people running our government???

Now you see why they were called on the carpet:
In a hearing Wednesday before the Subcommittee on Economic Development, Public Buildings and Emergency Management to discuss the lease, Ms. Schapiro acknowledged missteps and said she wanted to SEC to cede its authority to lease space to the General Services Administration. U.S. Rep. Jeff Denham (R., Calif.), chairman of the subcommittee, also questioned why there was an urgency to get the deal done in spite of the “collapse of the real estate industry.”

Ms. Schapiro said she had heard there were few options for space. “It was presented to me…that if we were going to have any growth at all, we had to take this space,” Ms. Schapiro said.[snip] (Click here to read the rest.)

You'll be glad to know that, according to the article, the Office of the Comptroller has been able to rent some of the space, but they are still looking for tenants for the other third of the sf available. Any takers? Oh, and they are considering whether to investigate this or not.

I'm sorry, but what's the question there, exactly?? Sheesh.

And finally, last but definitely not least, is the third example of wasteful government spending I have heard of in just two days. If the second one was a doozy, this one is a wallop. It seems that two, not one, but two, Navy tankers which have yet to be completed, are now heading to the scrap heap. They only cost $300 million, so not as bad as the 10 year lease, but still, a mighty hefty amount of taxpaying dollars:
[snip] The Isherwood, stretching more than 660 feet, began its final journey this week, unceremoniously towed Tuesday from its mooring spot in the James River Reserve Fleet, also known as the "ghost fleet," near Fort Eustis in Newport News.

Its destination: International Shipbreaking Limited in Brownsville, Texas, just above the Mexico border. There, the vessel will be cut up, its innards removed and disposed of, and its steel and other metals sold as recycled products.

The Eckford, of equal size, is scheduled to follow next Tuesday, leaving behind fewer than 20 junk ships in the ghost fleet, the smallest number since its inception during World War I.

Once the two Navy oilers have departed, "it will close one of the saddest chapters in American shipbuilding and for that matter, federal fiduciary folly," wrote Joseph Keefe, a global maritime commentator, this week on the website [snip] {Click here to read the rest.)

This just begs the question: why were these tankers ever even authorized?

Someone asked recently what we are sending to countries that do not think highly of us, according to a recent Pew poll. We are going to give Egypt $1.3 billion this year for military aid; thanks to the Kerry-Lugar-Berman bill, $1.5 billion a year to Pakistan; and the list goes on. Since the Congress has failed to provide or pass a budget for the past couple of years, this CRS report on aid to East and South Asia should provide fairly up-to-date information.

But we cannot leave out the billions of US dollars in aid to Afghanistan that has been stolen, or "lost," there. Holy crap.

"Waste not, want not" should be our mantra. This is especially true as our Congress and president fight over how much more in debt this nation is willing to go. And at what cost to us, our reputation, and our economy, they are willing to accept on our behalf. They can begin by being a helluva lot more careful as to how they spend our tax dollars, whether for programs at home, lack of oversight of personnel who have no authority to be signing contracts, and to those who do have the authority to sign away millions and millions without doing their freakin' homework first.

These are just three examples in the past two days that have come to my attention. I am sure you can come up with a few more. Our Congress needs to remember they work for US, and when they waste money on programs or goods they are not going to use, they must answer to US. This isn't Monopoly money after all, it's for real. It is well past time they started acting like it. Copyright © 2011 by Rabble Rouser Reverend Amy

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