Nice work if you can get it

Getting paid for not workingA recent audit of the Environmental Protection Agency revealed that eight employees were paid more than $1 million to stay home on paid leave. Four of the eight were off for at least a year while two are in their second year collecting their salaries for not working.

The total cost to taxpayers was $1,096,868 for a total of 20,926 hours from January 2010 through September 2013. This total outlay doesn’t count the build up of pensions and the accumulation of sick days and vacations. In addition these employees moved up the federal scale based on longevity.

The EPA’s response was carefully worded. The agency “has carefully exercised its discretion in placing certain employees on administrative leave in cases of alleged serious misconduct.”

In addition to the eight on long-term leave the EPA was found to have paid out $17,550,100 to 69 employees who were on paid leave for at least one month between fiscal 2011 and fiscal 2013.

This is by no means confined to the Environmental Protection Agency. Across the government the Government Accountability Office found that during a three-year period more than 57,000 were sent home for a month or longer. The total cost: nearly $750 million in salary alone.

Senator Charles E. Grassley (R-Iowa) responded in a written statement. “Taxpayers are paying for a fully functioning workforce, and they should get it.” Grassley was one of the lawmakers who requested the GAO report.

The EPA should explain why these employees were on leave for so long,” Grassley said. “Too often, extended paid leave is an excuse for managers to put off making a decision on whether an employee should be on the job while an administrative action is pending.”

The extensive use of administrative leave continues despite government personnel rules that limit paid leave for employees facing disciplinary action to “rare circumstances” in which the employee is considered a threat.

GAO auditors found that supervisors used wide discretion in putting employees on leave, including for alleged violations of government rules and laws, whistleblowing, doubts about trust­worthiness, and disputes with colleagues or bosses. Some employees remain on paid leave while they challenge demotions and other punishments.


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IRS Also Mismanages Information Technology

IRS BuildingSo you thought that the Internal Revenue Service was only guilty of targeting Tea Party and conservative groups? Well guess again. The IRS has been reported in a scathing audit to be guilt of mismanaging information technology.

Despite having a $1.8 billion budget the audit claims that the nation’s tax collector cannot properly manage the flood of sensitive documents and data it gets from taxpayers.

The federal tax agency doesn’t effectively keep track of the software it purchases, it buys more copies than needed and it sometimes deploys more copies than it is allowed, the report said.

The IRS does not effectively manage server software licenses and is not adhering to federal requirements and industry best practices,” according to a new audit report by the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration.

“TIGTA estimates that the amount wasted because of the inadequate management of server software licenses is in the range of $81 million to $114 million based on amounts spent for licenses and annual license maintenance that were not being used,” the report said.

And that criticism only covers servers! Previous IG audits found similar issues with almost every other area of the agency’s information technology, including aging desktops and mainframes.

Previous audits also found that the IRS did not have an “accurate inventory of software” and it didn’t use available tools that would allow it to manage its licenses much better.

And if you wondered why and how the IRS managed to lose so many crucial emails (except through foul play) well the IG might have the answer for you. The audit found that the agency lacked the basic email functionality afforded to virtually all ordinary email users, causing it to lose official emails.

When IRS Commissioner testified in front of Congress he had a typical bureaucratic reason for the email issue, wait for it, the IRS couldn’t get by on a mere $1.8 billion for information management. They needed yet more money to bring their systems up to modern standards.

“We are provided significant amounts of money but significantly less than we need,” he told Congress. House Republicans said it was more an issue of spending the money wisely.

But spending money wisely doesn’t seem to be the tax agency’s strong suit. The audit found that the IRS is wasting $100 million. The audit found that the money wasted could immediately free up six percent of the tax agency’s entire IT budget to be re-appropriated as necessary.

In an unrelated lawsuit filing last week, the IRS disclosed that its programmers wrote an average of 473 lines of code a month — an incredibly low productivity in the industry.

Better in-house programmers could decrease its dependency on high-priced vendors like IBM, and the risks of having the government’s important data trapped inside someone else’s tools.

Earlier this year, the IRS had to pay Microsoft high rates for special service because it was still using Windows XP after the operating system giant stopped supporting it, despite years of warning that it needed to switch.

That means that not only does the IRS use 50,000 computers running a 12-year old operating system, but it is paying handsomely for it.



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Romneycare’s Millions

RomneycarePart of the fallout from the Jonathan Gruber debacle is the revelation that Romneycare is receiving a subsidy of $400 million annually from the federal government. He also revealed that they received the money when they promised to spend it on the poor and indigent.

Unveiled on Fox News’ “Special Report”, the video shows Gruber bragging about how Democratic Senator Ted Kennedy and other “smart people” figured out how to “rip off the feds” in order to make Romneycare work in Massachusetts, to the tune of $400 million a year.

The dirty secret in Massachusetts is the feds pay for our bill. In Massachusetts, we had a powerful senator you may know named Ted Kennedy. Ted Kennedy and smart people in Massachusetts basically have figured out a way to rip off the feds for about $400 million a year.

“Here was Mitt Romney’s dirty little secret that we don’t like to talk about in Massachusetts, which is the way we passed our law is the federal government paid for it.

“George Bush said why am I sending this Democrat $500 million a year, I’m taking it back,” Gruber explained, adding “Mitt Romney to his credit went to George Bush and said, look, can we keep the money if we use it for universal coverage. And Bush to his credit said yes.”

So we now have approximately $400 million per year going to Massachusetts because of the late Edward Kennedy’s influence. But what would happen if that subsidy ended. Well, the whole program would collapse or the premiums would increase substantially.

And this original state program was used by the Obama administration to push Obamacare. In essence, they said that it worked for Massachusetts why can’t it work for the entire country. Little did we know that both programs were based on lies and deceit.


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Let the investigations begin

Joint Committees of InvestigationWith the Republican victory on Election Day also comes the thing that the Obama administration fears the most: the dreaded joint committees of investigation. And believe me when I say that they plenty to investigate.

The Obama administration has been able to stonewall the Congress because the Republicans controlled only the House. Now that they control both houses the wrongdoers are in for a rude awakening come January.

The Republicans have a responsibility to investigate the Executive Branch not only for willful transgressions but also for waste, fraud and abuse.


The Congress has a long history of investigating the Executive Branch. During the Civil War the Joint Committee on the Conduct of the War once set up continued to past the official end of the war.

The Investigation of the Pearl Harbor Attack was another wartime joint committee that held hearings well into 1946 before generating a voluminous report.

Since then, we have had the Warren Commission that investigated the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. This was followed by the Watergate hearings. So there is plenty of precedent for joint committees of oversight and investigation.

After all the Federal government will spend close to $4 trillion and the American taxpayers expect the government to be proper stewards of their hard-earned tax dollars.

Let’s start with the transgressions. Congress and the American people have never received a full and truthful report on the Fast & Furious gun-walking scandal. It’s time to expose the sordid details and deal out the punishment.

Then, of course, we have the Benghazi attack to investigate. There are many unanswered questions for Hillary Clinton and the State Department. First, what exactly going on there? Why wasn’t there proper security? Why wasn’t aid sent immediately? These and other questions must be answered.

Then, we have the IRS targeting Tea Party and conservative groups. How long has it been going on? Who ordered it and how far far does it go? If Lois Lerner won’t talk then she should be cited for contempt of Congress and jailed until she does. By all means give her immunity but the country needs answers.

Both houses of Congress need to look into the Environmental Protection Agency’s unbridled use of regulations that are sapping the U.S. economy with job-killing rules without Congressional consent.

The Constitution says that Congress writes the laws and the Executive Branch carries them out. It doesn’t say that agencies like the EPA can make and execute laws without Congressional consent.

The new Congress will have a full plate of investigations and the American people expects them to vigorously that mission. Now that they have the power on Capital Hill it’s time to use it to the maximum.



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Tom Coburn’s Final Wastebook

Burning our tax dollarsIn January an era will end when Tom Coburn (R-OK) will retire from the Senate. With him will go his Wastebook that details all of the egregious wasteful spending by a variety of government departments and agency.

Senator Coburn has sometimes seemed like a lone voice in Washington campaigning against those who waste the American taxpayers hard-earned money and he will be sorely missed.

For his Grand Finale Coburn and his staff have highlighted 100 government programs that they consider the most. Some are silly (other than the wasteful spending) others involve very serious misuses of government funds.

Here are some of the silly ones:

  • $171,000 To Study How Monkeys Gamble. This gem was brought to us by researchers at the University of Rochester.
  • $856,000 To Film Mountain Lions Running On Treadmills. If you liked the National Science Foundation’s hit film “Shrimp On A Treadmill”, you’re going to love its sequel.
  • Synchronized Swimming For Sea Monkeys. This epic performance cost the American taxpayers a cool $50,000.
  • Swedish Massages For Bunnies. Believe me, You can’t make this stuff up. This two-year study cost $387,000.
  • Free Luxury Gym Memberships For Federal Bureaucrats. This program brings cutting out fat literally to our bureaucracy. Homeland Security spent $450,000 on this perk.
  • $331,000 To Study Whether “Hangry” Spouses Are More Likely To Stab Voodoo Dolls. When spouses get “hangry,” they stab voodoo dolls representing their partners, according to a pricey study from the National Science Foundation.
  • $18 Million To Renovate A Low-Traffic Airport That Serves A High-End Ski Resort. The airport for “Sun Valley ski resort that is a magnet for the rich and famous” is getting a multi-million dollar facelift courtesy of taxpayers.
  • NIH Spent Over $800,000 To Make A Video Game About Food Fights. When NIH and the CDC complain about lack of funding for an Ebola vaccine why are they spending huge amounts of money on silly studies?

Coburn’s Wastebook claims that over $25 billion has been wasted on the 100 programs that are listed in his report. Some of the less silly waste includes the following:

  • $19 million was wasted by bureaucrats gone wild. This covers some of the bureaucrats who were placed on administrative leave for bad behavior.
  • $414,000 spent on a first-person shooter that the intelligence community worries could train terrorists.
  • OPM Paid Contractor $124.3 for invalid Security Clearance Investigations. This past January, the Department of Justice (DOJ) accused U.S. Investigations Services of submitting 665,000 fake background investigations.166 As a result, hundreds of thousands of people who may not have been eligible for clearances were given access to top secret information.
  • $146 million in subsidies for Sports Stadiums leave taxpayers holding the bill.
  • $3 billion for Golf Club Testing and Elementary School experiments aboard the International Space Station.
  • $44.5 million to maintain the “Launchpad to Nowhere” at the Stennis Space Center in Mississippi. The tower will cost $840,000 a year to maintain. In addition NASA will spend another $43 million to maintain unused or outdated facilities.
  • Exploding Claims of “Sleep Apnea” Threaten to Bankrupt VA Disability Program at a cost of $1.2 billion every year.

The list goes with wasteful spending in almost every government department. The problem is that no one has the political will to tackle this serious problem. Maybe President Obama should appoint Senator Coburn as “Waste Czar” with absolute power to fix this problem.

Here’s the link for Wastebook 2014.

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The Government’s Asset-Forfeiture Racket

I want your moneyWell, here’s a government law that amazes me hasn’t been ruled unconstitutional as a violation of the Fourth Amendment. That amendment states:

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

The government has been able to get around the Fourth Amendment by claiming that in civil forfeiture cases, the government sues the item of property, not the person. The owner is effectively a third-party claimant.

The burden is on the Government to establish that the property is subject to forfeiture by a “preponderance of the evidence.” If it is successful, the owner may yet prevail by establishing an “innocent owner” defense. Criminal forfeitures are usually carried out in a sentence following a conviction and is a punitive act against the offender.

So as far as governmental authorities are concerned the letter of the law is being followed. But is the spirit of the law, especially the Fourth Amendment, being followed? The good news is that a a new Rasmussen poll reveals that 70 percent of Americans oppose this legalized theft.

Municipalities have come to rely on confiscated property for revenue. Police and prosecutors use forfeiture proceeds to fund not only general operations but junkets, parties, and swank office equipment. A cottage industry has sprung up to offer law enforcement agencies instruction on how to take and keep property more efficiently.

At one time, forfeiture seemed eminently reasonable. Drug kingpins were making millions from criminal enterprises. Whether because they lacked enough evidence to convict kingpins or for tactical reasons, law enforcement officers settled for hitting them in the wallet by seizing money and property traceable to illegal activity.

But now asset forfeiture has become a racket with police seizing cash from motorists at traffic stops. In addition to drug violations some 200 other crimes now render individuals’ property subject to seizure.

There are many outrageous deeds covered in the asset seizure story. This part sounds like a RICO violation:

“…a practice known as ‘equitable sharing,’ in which local and state law enforcement officers seize property and then refer forfeiture actions to federal authorities in return for a portion of the resulting proceeds, encourages state and local authorities to do an end-run around some state laws that limit the ability of local authorities to seek forfeiture and to keep the resulting proceeds.”

In other words, local authorities hook up with the Feds to steal people’s assets, and then divide the spoils amongst themselves.

Let’s just look at one city that has abused this practice: Philadelphia the birthplace of the Constitution. How ironic. Here’s the video that tells it all.


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Obama Fleeces Taxpayers on Campaign Travel

Obama shushing everyone about the truthHere’s another report from Judicial Watch with how Obama fleeces taxpayers on campaign travel costs.

At a time when illegal immigrants are putting pressure on America’s porous southwestern border, and terrorists are gaining ground overseas, how should an American president spend his time? If you’re President Obama, you apparently feel you should drink beer, play pool and book expensive fundraising trips.

That’s what the records we obtained from the U.S. Department of Air Force Headquarters Air Mobility Command – through a July 21, 2014, Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request – appear to indicate.

Here are some of the numbers:  Transportation costs of the president’s July 8-9 fundraising trips to Denver, Colorado cost the taxpayers $695,894.10, while the transportation costs for the president’s July 17-18 fundraising trip to New York City, New York, cost taxpayers $463,929.40. That’s what we know. What we don’t know is the security costs to the taxpayer for these trips because the Secret Service, which can’t seem to be able to guard the front door of the White House, is obsessed with stonewalling our requests for the security costs of Obama’s fundraising travel.

And, of course, the Obama White House keeps secret how it determines if presidential travel is either “official” or “political.”  Political parties and campaigns are charged no more than the price of an individual commercial airline ticket, hotel, and food costs if a president uses Air Force One in whole or in part for a “political” trip. What a racket!

These fundraising trips coincided with international and domestic crises that call out for presidential leadership. While Obama was delivering his fundraising speeches in Denver and New York, thousands of illegal aliens were flooding across the Rio Grande Valley, with one law enforcement bulletin declaring that apprehensions were at “historically elevated levels.  Meanwhile, in Iraq, the terrorist group ISIS was seizing “vast areas of Iraq” according to theNew York Times. In the Ukraine, a Malaysia Airlines passenger jet was shot down, and, in the Mideast, Israel had begun its Gaza ground offensive.

With these facts in mind, consider how The Associated Press described the president’s July 8 and 9 fundraisers in Denver. Obama spent his time at “a crowded pizza restaurant, a pool bar and face-to-face with a man wearing a horse head mask.”  Images of President Obamadrinking beer and playing pool became the subject of national news. Not a very formidable, compelling image for the commander-in-chief. Just a few days later, on July 17 and 18, Obama traveled to New York City for a gala lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender fundraiser for the Democratic National Committee.

“The White House says Obama will raise money for the Senate Majority PAC, a Democratic group that takes unlimited donations. Obama’s appearance will complete his gradual acceptance of the big-money groups he once opposed,” according to a report from the Tribune Broadcasting’s WPIX-TV in Manhattan.

We searched in vain for any news about the president’s strong stance on terrorism in Iraq and turmoil on the border during his fundraising junket. But, apparently he was far more concerned with partying hard and making money – all at the taxpayers’ expense.

In the meantime, Judicial Watch, which seems to be the only entity in DC asking tough questions (and suing) about Obama’s abuse of his public office, is your one-stop source on the costs of Obama’s unnecessary luxury travel.

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Obama Luxury Travel costs taxpayers and weakens the Secret Service

What only four vacations this yearHere’s a post from Judicial Watch with a report with Barack Obama and his family’s astounding travel costs. It also details how Obama administration has abused the Secret Service by forcing them to weaken their protection plans for political considerations.

This week saw an astonishing report from the Washington Post that described how the Obama White House and other Obama officials lied and suppressed embarrassing information about the Secret Service and White House officials implicated in a prostitution scandal:

As nearly two dozen Secret Service agents and members of the military were punished or fired following a 2012 prostitution scandal in Colombia, Obama administration officials repeatedly denied that anyone from the White House was involved.

But new details drawn from government documents and interviews show that senior White House aides were given information at the time suggesting that a prostitute was an overnight guest in the hotel room of a presidential advance-team member – yet that information was never thoroughly investigated or publicly acknowledged.

For the Obama gang, election year politics took precedence over the truth and the safety of the president and the White House.  This is no surprise to us, but you can see how the Secret Service is at the breaking point because of the abuses of this presidency.

We announced this week that our investigators obtained more records from the U.S. Secret Service and the U.S. Department of the Air Force revealing the security costs for the Obama Family’s 2013 vacation in Honolulu and Martha’s Vineyard, and the flight cost for the First Lady’s 2014 ski trip to Aspen, CO, came to $972,450.24 in taxpayer-paid vacation expenses. The cost to taxpayers includes:

In February 2014, Judicial Watch released flight expense records from the U.S. Department of the Air Force revealing that President Obama incurred $5,250,624 in flight expenses alone for his 2013 vacations to Hawaii and Martha’s Vineyard. Adding in the newly released expense records, that brings total cost to the taxpayers for the two Obama family 2013 vacations and the First Lady’ 2014 Aspen ski trip to $6,223,074.24, not including the Aspen security costs.

From December, 21, 2012, to January, 5, 2013, the Obama family spent their Christmas vacation in Honolulu, Hawaii, where they stayed at the luxurious 6,000 square-foot, $7.9 million Kailua home they had rented in 2011. From August 11 – 17, 2013, the Obama family spent an extended week vacationing in Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts, where they stayed at the plush $7.6 million home of David Schulte, founder of the private equity firm Chilmark Partners and major contributor to Obama’s campaigns. These two vacations cost a total of $937,487.94 in security alone.

The Obamas continually abuse the public trust and raid the taxpayers’ coffers for unnecessarily luxurious and incessant vacations and travel.  The very fact that we repeatedly have to file Freedom of Information Act requests and lawsuits to obtain this information reveals that the most transparent administration in history knows that its behavior is extravagant and, therefore, seeks to cover it up.

One can only imagine how this unnecessary travel, and the cover up of facts about its costs, saps the budget and morale of a Secret Service that cannot even secure the White House complex, and had trouble keeping the president secure even when he’s traveling on important government business.  I am told that morale in the Secret Service is terrible and that good men and women are fleeing the agency in droves.

According to the numbers we’ve been able to extract thus far, the Obamas and Bidens have spent more than $40 million taxpayer dollars on trips since 2009 up through the president’s most recent Palm Springs and Key Largo golf outings, which cost the taxpayers $2,952,278 in flight expenses.  Tens of millions of dollars in taxpayer money to send Obama golfing and his wife skiing:  keep these numbers in mind as you hear the Obama gang distract from the corruption and abuse of the Secret Service with demands for more money and “reforms.”

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An Obamacare October surprise?

obamacare compositeObamacare premiums aren’t rising everywhere. They just have a way of finding the states with the biggest Senate races. And that could be very bad timing for Democrats in two of the party’s key contests.

Double-digit rate hikes for individual health insurance plans have become an issue in the Louisiana and Iowa Senate races over the past week, where the Republican candidates are hammering their Democratic opponents for the steep premium increases on the way next year for some customers under the Affordable Care Act.

In Louisiana, Rep. Bill Cassidy called the double-digit increases for some insurers — including Blue Cross Blue Shield of Louisiana — “another hurdle for families and businesses already struggling under the demands of Obamacare” and blamed Democrats for “false promises” that premiums would go down.

The attacks could easily give the impression that the health care law is causing premiums to go through the roof around the country. They’re not. In reality, in most states, premiums for coverage in the Obamacare health insurance exchanges for 2015 are rising at about the normal rate for health insurance throughout the country. In some places, they’re even going down.

But there are a few states that are facing more extreme premium increases from some insurers — and Louisiana and Iowa are two of them. Alaska, where Democratic Sen. Mark Begich is struggling to win a second term, is another one.

Even there, it’s not all insurers that are raising rates that much. Louisiana, for example, is only announcing rates for the insurers that are raising rates by 10 percent or more, so the picture that’s being made public is incomplete.

But in an election year, a few states — and a few insurers — are all you need, particularly when they may serve to rekindle passions about a law that was already an Election Day concern for Democrats.

“In general, the premium increases have been pretty modest. But there are exceptions, and the exceptions happen to be in states with competitive races,” said Larry Levitt of the Kaiser Family Foundation, who has studied the premium trends around the country.

Republican strategists have been waiting for the big premium increases to show up as an Obamacare “October surprise.” They’ve been hearing for months through their GOP policy expert contacts that the rate hikes were a possibility, and that because of the timing of the next enrollment season — it starts on Nov. 15 — the increases would become final around now.

Democrats aren’t too concerned. It’s not as if the issue is dominating the airwaves, after all. With the Louisiana and Iowa Republican Senate candidates, it’s been press statements and Twitter for now — although a conservative group did run a TV ad in Alaska that hit Begich over the increases there.

Obama administration officials point out that even in the states with the biggest hikes, most customers won’t see them. In Iowa, for example, premiums for the second-lowest-cost “silver” health insurance plans — the kind most Obamacare customers buy — will go down by an average of 7 percent in Des Moines.

They also note that the typical premiums for people who get Obamacare subsidies are pretty low to begin with. In Louisiana, for example, the average monthly premium was $68 this year for a “silver” plan.

But why would the biggest rate hikes single out some of the hottest Senate races in the first place? There’s no conspiracy — it’s just the way the electoral math worked out. The states with the biggest increases are usually the ones where the political leaders have resisted the Affordable Care Act and haven’t done well at enrollment. And some of those states just happen to have the most competitive Senate races.

A study by PwC’s Health Research Institute, which researched premium data in 38 states and the District of Columbia, found that the average increase across states was just 6 percent. Only eight states had double-digit increases — but those states included Louisiana and Iowa, as well as Kansas, where Republican Sen. Pat Roberts is trying to head off a serious challenge from independent Greg Orman.


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Air Force to scrap planes worth over $500 million

C-27JWe wrote about this almost exactly one year ago. Here’s the original article from October 7, 2013:

And the hits keep coming for the procurement people at the Pentagon. In addition to the ongoing F-35 debacle, the newest money waster at the Pentagon is the C-27J cargo plane.

The right hand doesn’t know what the left hand is doing and the result is a waste of $567 million in cargo planes that the Air Force is purchasing and immediately flying to their “boneyard” in the Arizona desert. And while they’re doing this they continue to purchase even more planes.

The Pentagon doesn’t really want to publicize the existence of the “boneyard” at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base in Tucson, where some 4,400 aircraft and 13 aerospace vehicles, with a total value of more than $35 billion, sit unused.

The planes are built by Rome-based Alenia Aermacchi, under what was initially a $2 billion contract, though that was scaled back. Of course, they had an assist from two Ohio Senators, Democrat Sherrod Brown and Republican Rob Portman.

When the program began 800 jobs and a mission at Mansfield Air National Guard Base depended on it. Brown urged the military in a 2011 letter to purchase up to 42 of the aircraft, saying too few planes “will weaken our national and homeland defense.”

The program was canceled because of sequestration but service officials still issued a request to industry on May 10 for proposals to purchase even more of the same exact aircraft that will likely sit in the boneyard.

What’s behind this incredible waste of money? The C-27J Spartan has found itself in the middle of a battle between the Air Force’s active duty and the Air National Guard. Active duty leaders have said the service likes the aircraft, but can’t afford it with the forthcoming budget cuts.

Guard leaders have responded saying the aircraft will save the service money and the Guard, which was set to receive the bulk of the fleet, is being unfairly targeted to absorb the brunt of the service’s budget cuts.

For the most part Congress has taken the side of the Guard in this ongoing debate. Lawmakers have ordered the Air Force to consider buying more C-27Js even though they are set to follow through on plans to send the C-27J fleet to the service’s boneyard.

Air Force leaders had said the sustainment costs were too expensive to keep the C-27J when compared to the C-130. Former Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Norton Schwartz told Congress in 2012 it cost $9,000 per hour to fly the C-27J and $10,400 to fly the C-130.

Even though the C-130 was slightly higher per hour, the C-130 is well established within the fleet and the Air Force couldn’t afford to introduce and sustain the C-27J.

Meanwhile, The U.S. Forest Service has released a study on how the C-27J could be used by the agency if the Air Force gives them seven as expected.

Well, the chickens have come home to roost or more rightly to the Air Force bone yard.

WASHINGTON – A U.S. government watchdog agency is asking the Air Force to explain why it destroyed 16 aircraft initially bought for the Afghan air force and turn them into $32,000 of scrap metal instead of finding other ways to salvage nearly $500 million in U.S. funds spent on the program.

John Sopko, special inspector general for Afghanistan reconstruction, asked Air Force Secretary Deborah James to document all decisions made about the destruction of the 16 C-27J aircraft that were stored at Kabul International Airport for years, and what the service planned to do with four additional planes now in Germany.

“I am concerned that the officials responsible for planning and executing the scrapping of the planes may not have considered other possible alternatives in order to salvage taxpayer dollars.” Sopko said in a letter to James that was dated Oct. 3 and released Thursday by his office.

Sopko also asked if any other parts of the planes had been sold before they were destroyed by the Defense Logistics Agency.

Sopko’s office has been investigating the matter since December 2013 after numerous non-profit groups and military officials raised questions about funds wasted on the planes.

The U.S. government spent $486 million to buy and refurbish 20 older C-27A airplanes from Alenia, a unit of Italy’s Finmeccanica SpA , but later canceled the program because a lack of spare parts was severely limiting their availability for military use.

Instead, the Pentagon decided to buy four larger C-130 planes built by Lockheed Martin Corp to do the work.

Pentagon spokesman Major Brad Avots said the U.S. military decided to destroy the planes “to minimize impact on drawdown of U.S. forces in Afghanistan,” but would provide more information after a review.

Avots said the Pentagon and Air Force would consider various options for the remaining four planes, including possible sale to other parties.

“Working in a wartime environment such as Afghanistan brings with it many challenges, and we continually seek to improve our processes,” he said.

He said the U.S. military was also working to help Afghanistan “improve accountability and help instill sound financial management practices in daily operations while reducing the risk of fraud, waste and abuse.”

In an interview last year with NBC News, Sopko said it was unclear if the incident was criminal fraud or mismanagement, but the waste was not an isolated incident in Afghanistan.

The Pentagon’s inspector general has also investigated the issue, which the non-profit Project on Government Oversight calls “a shining example of the billions wasted in Afghanistan.”

In January 2013, the Pentagon’s inspector general office said the aircraft flew only 234 of the 4,500 required hours from January through September 2012. The office also said about $200 million were needed to buy spare parts for the planes.

(Reporting by Andrea Shalal; Editing by David Gregorio & Kim Coghill)

Sometimes, the incompetence at the Pentagon knows no bounds.

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