He didn’t find any wasteful spending directly related to energy, but Oklahoma Congressman Steve Russell’s Christmas Edition of Waste Watch reveals plenty of startling example of how federal money is going down the drain.
But in the area of transportation, the Republican Representative cited the case of the National Institutes of Health spending nearly $50,000 on “elegant” bicycle shelters on its campus in Bethesda, Maryland. Nothing wrong with bicycle racks, said the Congressman in his report, but all that money to keep bicycles out of the rain?
Then there’s the $1.5 million spent by the Department of Defense on an unfinished slaughterhouse in Afghanistan. Work started in 2012 but was abandoned a year later when the Afghan National Army determined it was able to adequately feed its own troops.
There is also a 2012 Congressional Research Service report that indicated the government had 77,000 buildings around the country that were either abandoned or underutilized, costing taxpayers $1.67 billion to operate and maintain.
The Freedom of Information Act is intended to be a tool for the public to use in obtaining public documents, documents paid for by the taxpayers. Yet Congressman Russell pointed out that between 2009 and 2014, the federal government spent $144 million fighting FOIA requests that it is required by law to answer.
And just a few months ago, the Government Accountability Office discovered that over a five-year period, there were 112 lawsuits where the plaintiffs won and the federal agencies paid out at least $1.3 million in FOIA-related litigation costs to the plaintiffs.