100 Times the Feds Dropped the Ball

This week, Senator James Lankford (R-OK) released his second Federal Fumbles report highlighting $247 billion in "wasteful and inefficient federal spending and regulations." It is amazing to see how much the federal government spends on frivolous programs, while simultaneously running up an annual deficit of $587 billion. The report lists 100 examples of questionable uses of our tax dollars. Some of the most absurd examples include:

  • $47,000 spent by the TSA to develop an iPad app that would randomly point travelers either to the left or right;

  • $500,000 "to find the connection between religion, politics, and cemeteries in 12th-century Iceland;"

  • $2 million to determine whether climate change has impacted panda habitats in China; and

  • $35,000 to fund an exhibit of Iranian art.

Pointing out wasteful spending is the easy part. Reforming or eliminating these programs is more difficult. Thankfully, the report also includes recommendations for each item, spelling out how the "federal fumble" could be "recovered" to improve outcomes for taxpayers, including steps agencies could take to make better use of their resources. The report also offers legislative reforms. For example, Lankford has introduced S. 2972, the Grant Reform and New Transparency Act, to increase transparency and accountability in the federal grant process. Policymakers should be mindful of these examples of waste when it comes time to consider the debt ceiling and the next budget deal.