When President-elect Donald Trump takes office Jan. 20, he will have plenty of targets for cutting wasteful government spending — like the $400,000 taxpayers spent studying glaciers through the lens of feminism.
Americans believe the federal government wastes 51 cents on the dollar, and while the federal government has no concrete estimate on total waste, The Daily Caller News Foundation reported some eye-popping examples of it throughout 2016. From spending $400,000 studying gender approaches to glaciers to paying for IRS employees to live at high-end hotels, here are the most outrageous expenses of 2016.
1. $412,000 for a study on a feminine approach to glaciology
The National Science Foundation (NSF) spent $412,000 for a paper encouraging a feminist approach to glaciology, the study of glaciers, according to a report earlier this year from Oklahoma Republican Sen. James Lankford.
“Merging feminist postcolonial science studies and feminist political ecology, the feminist glaciology framework generates robust analysis of gender, power, and epistemologies in dynamic social-ecological systems, thereby leading to more just and equitable science and human-ice interactions,” the paper said.
2. $20 million on enough cheddar cheese for 67 million grilled cheese sandwiches
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) this year bought $20 million worth of cheddar cheese – or 12.5 million pounds — to reduce a cheese surplus and help out American dairy farmers.
Put another way, the USDA bought enough cheese to make 66.7 million grilled cheese sandwiches, assuming three one-ounce slices per sandwich with cheddar at $1.60 a pound. Members of Congress and dairy groups encouraged the USDA to make the massive cheese purchase.
3. $87 billion on ignored inspector general recommendations
The federal government wasted $87 billion by ignoring thousands of recommendations from agency inspectors general (IGs) during President Barack Obama’s tenure, according to an October U.S. Senate report.
Iowa Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley said there is “no excuse” for the refusal to carry out 15,222 IG recommendations that could have saved billions each year. The Department of Defense (DOD) alone could save more than $33 billion if Pentagon officials did what their respective IG suggested.
4. Untold millions on untracked credit card spending
Agencies have no estimate on what is wasted through credit card spending annually.
The General Services Administration (GSA) claims 261,000 federal employees spent $19 billion using government-issued credit cards in fiscal year 2015, the most recently available data. But legislative attempts to strengthen oversight of credit card spending haven’t included requirements to track waste in any uniform way.
5. $461 million on no-strings attached grants for the Middle East
Department of State officials can’t say if the $461 million they sent to the Middle East in social and economic development grants was effective.
That’s because State Department officials failed to set up metrics for success, a basic and unacceptable mistake, according to a State Department IG report. The State Department measured “outputs” — the types of services provided — instead of “outcomes,” or effectiveness.
6. Hundreds of thousands of dollars for IRS employees to live in luxury
Former IRS Chief Technology Officer Terry Milholland called Texas home, but most weeks he flew to Washington, D.C., slept at the Grand Hyatt downtown, and flew home Thursday — all on the taxpayer dime.
A recent U.S. Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs report found a number of IRS executives live far from where their job responsibilities are, so taxpayers spend big bucks on their airfare, hotels and luxurious apartments.
The IRS spent $1.4 million on 27 employees who traveled 125 business days or more in 2015, the most recently available data.
7. $125 billion on covered-up Pentagon waste
The Pentagon commissioned — then buried — a report that could have saved $125 billion by 2020.
The report never appeared on the Defense Business Board’s list of 2015 reports, and sources told The Washington Post that Pentagon officials wanted to hide the report so Congress wouldn’t shrink the Department of Defense (DOD) budget. The report pointed to saving $125 billion by slashing bureaucracy and renegotiating contracts, among other suggestions.
8. Untold amount on housing fugitives in public housing
Public housing authorities refused to evict 1,300 “felony fugitives” — including rapists and murderers — according to a report obtained by The Daily Caller News Foundation.
But it’s unclear how much taxpayers spent housing fugitives. The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) IG, which created the report, didn’t intend for it to be public and never shared it with HUD.
Federal agencies plan to spend $27 billion on global warming in 2017, according to analysis by The Daily Caller News Foundation.
The Department of State alone plans to spend $1 billion, while the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) plans to spend $2 billion. Trump has promised to roll back Obama’s climate change agenda.
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