Billions in Government Waste

Here’s a post from Akash Chogule of Americans for Prosperity on http://www.washingtontimes.com/ about how the U.S. Government is wasting hundreds of billions on improper payments.

 

Earlier this month, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) testified before Congress that federal agencies made more than $100 billion in improper payments last year. To put that number in perspective, $100 billion is more than the combined total budgets of the Coast Guard, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency, Border Patrol, Secret Service and the Federal Emergency Management Agency — a lot more.

The GAO report is the latest example of why Washington must get serious about eliminating waste, fraud and abuse, and enacting sweeping reforms and spending cuts before any more damage is inflicted on American taxpayers.

Improper payments result when people collect money from government programs for which they are ineligible. For example, paying unemployment insurance to people who are secretly working is an improper payment, and needlessly adds to the already out-of-control deficit.

The GAO thinks it’s likely the amount of improper payments is even higher than the $105.8 billion reported. In its own words, “the federal government’s inability to determine the full extent to which improper payments occur” represents a serious limitation on their estimates. Some programs, such as the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families welfare program, do not bother reporting estimates of improper payments at all.

The most errors came from Medicare, which represented almost half of all overpayments. Just two entitlement programs — Medicare and Medicaid — accounted for a whopping $64 billion in total improper payments. Currently, government-run health care programs gobble up one out of every five dollars the government spends, which obviously constricts the government’s ability to meet other responsibilities.

Of course, the fact that one of the biggest sectors of government spending is also one of the biggest sources of waste, fraud and abuse is no coincidence — it is merely a sign of the inefficiency of bloated bureaucracy. Unfortunately, the left seems determined to pile on to these programs, seeking to expand a Medicaid program riddled with problems, and refusing to reform Medicare, which is by far the single biggest driver of the nation’s $17 trillion national debt.

At this point, most people’s eyes glaze over these large numbers. Given how out-of-control spending in Washington has become and the regularity of unfathomably large numbers, it’s easy to see how we’ve become desensitized. These are not numbers to write off as a drop in the bucket. During the first five years of President Obama’s administration, the federal government has made a jaw-dropping $500 billion in improper payments — money that could have been returned to the American people and invested in the private-sector economy to create desperately needed jobs.

Last year, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi of California remarked that “the cupboard is bare there’s no more cuts to make.” Obviously, she was way off the mark. The federal government took in a record $2.7 trillion in 2013. However, if this is the return on investment taxpayers are getting, then Congress should not ask the American people for an additional dime on top of the trillions we already pay.

Strangely, Mr. Obama’s White House is trying to spin this story as a good thing, pointing out that overpayments have decreased since 2010. However, the White House is once again playing politics, putting lipstick on a pig — 2010 was the highest year ever of improper payments, topping $120 billion. Decreasing overpayments from this peak should not be applauded as some magnificent example of fiscal responsibility. The fact remains that improper payments have increased dramatically since the president took office, and they continue to be unacceptably high.

These improper payments are being handed out on the backs of hardworking American taxpayers who are struggling to make ends meet while Washington bureaucrats waste their hard-earned dollars so irresponsibly. There’s simply no sugarcoating that.

Akash Chougule is a policy analyst at Americans for Prosperity.

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Fraud Fest in D.C.

A bottomless pitIt seems that almost everyday there’s a report of yet another case of fraud against one or another Federal entitlement program. If it isn’t Medicare or Medicaid then it’s food stamps, unemployment or disability.

Federal entitlement programs have become a magnet for scammers, con artists and cheaters by the car load. Like bees to honey, they flock to them and cheat the American taxpayers out of billions of dollars.

Take Medicare and Medicaid as an example. The reported fraud taking place with these two programs is almost 10% of the overall cost of the two programs. That translates into almost $100 billion a year and many believe that its higher.

Despite the bleeding wounds in our government entitlement programs, Barack Obama has accused the Republicans of being hard-hearted. Instead of his diatribes he should be spending his energy on curbing the fraud that seems to personify them.

Are you aware that over the last decade over 92% of New York-based Russian diplomats’ childbirths were paid for by Medicaid, according to the Wall Street Journal. Keep in mind that this program was set up to help poor U.S. citizens.

In December the Manhattan U.S. attorney accused 49 current and former Russian diplomats of participating in an alleged scheme that garnered nearly $1.5 million in fraudulent Medicaid benefits 

Several years ago the New York Times ran a series on Medicaid fraud wherein one New York City official estimated that about 40 percent of the city’s Medicaid expenses were fraudulent. And this just one major American city.

Many residents receiving Medicaid Long Term Care are not poor. In some states up to $802,000 in assets can be kept and the resident can still receive benefits.

Then there is the Mother Lode for fraudsters: Medicare. False claims abound. Recently, a South Florida woman was found guilty of Medicare scams costing taxpayers $20 million.  In December a Houston doctor was charged with defrauding Medicare of $158 million, involving false claims for mental health treatments.

In a 60 minutes report several years ago a mobster who had been apprehended confessed to making $20,000, $30,000, $40,000 a day with false claims to Medicare.

Then, we have Unemployment Insurance, a mecca of false claims. Obama and his Democrat allies pushed to extend benefits which makes one wonder if they like to waste our money.

The U.S. Department of Labor recently released a report claiming that there was some $7.7 billion in “improper” unemployment benefit payments in 2013.  Among the most fraud-ridden states, Nebraska wins with an 18 percent improper payment rate, followed by North Carolina (17.5%), New Jersey and Louisiana (16%), Maine and Ohio (14%).

The government, not the most reliable estimator of fraud, estimated that $3 billion or 4% of the Food Stamp program was lost to fraud. Of course, that doesn’t count the fraudulent use of food stamps for liquor, cigarettes and other non-food items.

The Social Security Disability Program drew the attention of Senator Tom Coburn (R-OK):

The fraud is so rampant, and disability cases have so proliferated in recent years, that the Social Security’s Disability Trust Fund may run out of money in only 18 months.

Then there always reports of checks for Social Security and other retirement programs being sent to dead people. In 2011, 2.1 million of our deceased citizenry received Social Security payments. In 2012, the number had dropped to 2,475 getting $31 million.

Then, we have ObamaCare looming over our budget. There are already stories about ObamaCare scams with more to come.

Let’s face facts. The Federal government is so large with money being dispensed by so many different agencies and departments that it’s impossible to stop all of the fraud.

In addition, the government bureaucrats have very little motive to stop the waste. In the private sector, they would be fired. In the public sector, it’s so difficult that only a public outcry can get the fraud noticed.

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Human Waste at the Pentagon

Captains and majorsMost American have undoubtedly heard about the pink slips that the Army is sending out to captains and majors, many of whom are still in battle zones. In many respects, this is the revenge of the bureaucrats against our fighting men.

Bureaucrats have a reverse view of the fighting forces of the United States. They see themselves as the primary weapons rather than the facilitators of our armed forces.

After 13 years of war the bureaucrats can now thin down the armed forces and make our soldiers, sailors and marines into paper shufflers.

Their first strike is against the officer corps of the Army. Captains and majors are usually front-line commanders in wartime and they are usually the first to be separated from the service. Then the bureaucrats will really go to work hollowing out our forces.

Some 1,100 Army captains have gotten the bad news that they are to be separated from the service. Another 500 majors will be notified in July. It’s all part of the Army’s effort to smoothly trim down to a number that, thanks to federal budgetary uncertainty, remains unclear.

According to the Pentagon there were about 28,000 captains and nearly 17,000 majors in the Army on April 30. 

During the height of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, the Army had about 570,000 troops and has since dropped to about 510,000. The current cuts, which also include 500 noncommissioned officers selected early this year for separation, are aimed at producing an end strength of 490,000 troops — the Army’s previous target.

But the force will almost certainly get smaller. The most recent defense budget proposal from the Pentagon, now working its way through Congress, calls for an Army of some 450,000 soldiers.

Many captains have been in the service from four to eight years and commanded companies in combat. Majors have been in the service longer, commanding companies and larger formations.

But the bureaucrats at the Pentagon are inside-the-box thinkers who can’t conceive of doing things any other way. They took the same actions after the Vietnam War and it took the U.S. military decades to recover. Why would they change things now?

What’s more important, a trained leader or a useless military base? A battalion commander with combat experience or a useless piece of military hardware.

Here’s a suggestion. Put these trained leaders into open slots at the Pentagon. Rotate them in and out so that these middle managers can understand how our military functions.

There’s now question that they will bring a fresh perspective to the Department of Defense. Put them in positions that will take advantage of the experience that was gained at the tip of the spear. Hire them to replace retiring bureaucrats and we may see a more efficient force. Just saying.

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States are profiting from food stamp waste

There is no free moneyAs the National Debt has grown by over 70% under President Obama more taxpayers are asking the question: ‘Where does the money go?’ It has now become clearer to the smart taxpayers among us that our hard earned money is being frivolously wasted on a daily basis.

Government bureaucrats who are handsomely paid with generous benefits have been given bonuses for simply doing their jobs. Even when they’re not doing their jobs particularly well as in the case of the IRS and VA managers.

It has been reported that some $400 million in bonuses have been awarded annually at the Veterans Administration alone. All while VA managers while veterans died languishing on waiting lists and some of the lists were even hidden.

Did you know that states have been getting large multi-million dollar bonuses from the U.S. Department of Agriculture for wasting less of our money?

Last year Florida wasted only $47,829,887 million dollars of your tax dollars in the course of distributing food stamps to its recipients. For that dubious achievement, Florida received a $7 million bonus.

Interim Department of Children and Families Secretary for Florida Mike Carroll crowed about the accumulated bonuses that Florida has received over the past seven years:

This is the seventh year in a row that DCF’s improvements and accuracy in correctly processing food assistance applications has received accolades and bonus money from the federal government, totaling more than $54 million.

Quite an achievement. Waste tens of millions of taxpayer dollars and still get rewarded. And what do they do with the money received? Why they encourage even more people to apply for food stamps. No wonder the SNAP program is growing by leaps and bounds.

Meanwhile here in Virginia more than 10 percent of the population is enrolled in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), and the rate of Virginians on food stamps has exceeded population growth in the state. Nationally, 2013 saw 3,556,500 Americans join SNAP, a 200,000 increase from the previous year. 

One wants to ask the question: ‘Why are bonuses necessary?’. After all, states are doing the job that they are supposed to be doing. But is that really the answer. It seems that the bonuses that the states receive is a flat-out bribe to enroll even more people in the SNAP program.

It seems that the federal government needs to bribe states, localities and individuals with so-called ‘free money’ in order to continue expanding the entitlement state. Remember, there is no ‘free money’. If you’re a taxpayer, it’s coming out of your pocket.

 

 

 

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How the Endangered Species Act has endangered America

Save the planet, kill yourselfThe Endangered Species Act (ESA) is the endangering the citizens of the United States in more ways than one. The act was signed by President Richard Nixon in December 1973 and environmentalists consider it the Magna Carta of their movement.

Its intent was to protect critically imperiled species from extinction as a “consequence of economic growth and development untempered by adequate concern and conservation.”

Then the Supreme Court put it on steroids with their initial interpretation of the law in Tennessee Valley Authority v. Hiram Hill et al. in 1978. The U.S. Supreme Court found that “the plain intent of Congress in enacting” the ESA “was to halt and reverse the trend toward species extinction, whatever the cost.”

Since then the environmentalists have expanded and reinforced the act. In essence, they have wielded it like a sledgehammer to stymie development and force us to conform to their vision of conservation.

Using the ESA as a weapon the Department of the Interior and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service have set aside hundreds of thousands of acres on the United States-Mexico as wildlife refuges for endangered species.

The Lower River Grande Refuge, for example, runs for 275 miles along the Rio Grande River, which is on the border of Texas and Mexico. The Santa Ana National Wildlife Refuge is a meager 2,000 acres, but the Laguna Atascosa National Wildlife Refuge encompasses more than 97,000.

Why is this a problem? The smugglers have the Border Patrol’s number. They know where they can patrol and where they can’t. The great hitter Wee Willie Keeler said: Hit ‘em where they ain’t and the smugglers have used his philosophy.

They move illegals and drugs through the dead zones of the wildlife preserves because they know that the Border Patrol is prohibited from driving through those areas. The Border Patrol has no idea who , how many or what is moving into the country through these areas.

If that isn’t enough, new wildlife preserves can spring up anywhere. Take the new Meadow Jumping Mouse controversy in New Mexico. More than a dozen ranchers fear that they could lose their grazing areas now that the meadow jumping mouse has been recognized by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service as an endangered species requiring habitat protection.

Ranchers in northern New Mexico claim what’s being talked about, 8-foot-tall fences surrounding protected riparian areas where their cattle and wildlife go to water, is an overreaction to a threat of potential lawsuits and stems from a controversy over the same mouse in Otero County.

In all, more than 190 linear miles of rivers and streams, or more than 15,000 acres, mostly in New Mexico but also in parts of Arizona and Colorado, are proposed to be designated as critical habitat for the mouse. Of that, 9,340 acres are on federal and state lands, and about 5,000 acres on private land.

In 2011, the Department of Interior reached a settlement with conservation groups WildEarth Guardians and the Center for Biological Diversity in U.S. District Court that led to more than 100 species gaining protections under the Endangered Species Act and another two dozen, including the New Mexico meadow jumping mouse, proposed for listing.

Ranchers, some of whom have grazed their livestock in the area for six generations, are fearful that their herds will be denied water and pasturage with any designation, although the service says a decision has not been made yet.

The ranchers live here and are willing to work with the service. But it remains to be seen if threats of lawsuits by environmental groups will push the service into make a precipitous decision.

These are just two examples of how the Endangered Species Act and the environmental lobby have not only endangered our border security but also endangered people’s livelihoods.

 

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A Pattern of Waste, Fraud and Abuse at the EPA

EPA regulationsThe Environmental Protection Agency has recently been in the news with a number of diktats from on high that personify overreaching government at it’s worst. The EPA’s main line of attack has been it’s war against carbon. Translate that into their war against coal.

Here’s a post from Dr. Richard Swier at http://watchdogwire.com/ that examines the impact of a war against coal with regards to higher electricity prices.

A new website EPAAbuse.com has launched dedicated to exposing the “dictatorial” mandates of the Environmental Protection Agency.

The EPA has morphed from a small government agency established by President Richard M. Nixon on December 4, 1970 designed to reduce air, water and solid waste pollution into a powerful tool used by Presidents Clinton, Bush and Obama to impose draconian political agendas in the “quixotic” mission to control the earth’s climate.

The preferred tools are EPA rules and regulations. The EPA now can regulate entire industries including agriculture, energy, automotive, manufacturing and even public education in its efforts to control mankind in the name of saving the planet. It’s attempts have become so pervasive so as to impact every level of government, every business, and the life of every American.

Every level of the federal government has been negatively impacted by the EPA’s effort to “go green,” from the US Navy’s requirement to purchase bio-diesel at a cost of $26 a gallon versus $3 for regular diesel fuel, to the US Army’s 15-year and $100 million dollar effort to take the lead out of bullets, making the bullets less accurate and lethal, to the Veterans Administration putting greater emphasis on “going green” than taking care of America’s wounded warriors and veterans.

The pattern is clear: “going green” has a higher priority than protecting this nation’s economy, individual property rights, and American workers.

According to Paul Driessen from CFACT:

 Last year [2013], Congress enacted 72 new laws; and federal agencies promulgated 3,659 new rules, imposing $1.86 trillion in annual regulatory compliance costs on American businesses and families. It’s hardly surprising that America’s economy shrank by 1% the first quarter of 2014, our labor participation rate is a miserable 63%, and real unemployment stands at 12-23% (and even worse for blacks and Hispanics).

Even worse, in the case of climate change, this process is buttressed by secrecy, highly questionable research, contrived peer reviews, outright dishonesty, and an absence of accountability… Mr. Obama and EPA chief Gina McCarthy are nevertheless determined to slash reliance on coal, even in 20 states that rely on this fuel for half to 95% of their electricity, potentially crippling their economies… The EPA also channels vast sums to its ‘independent’ Clean Air Scientific Advisory Committee, which likewise rubberstamps the agency’s pollution claims and regulations: $180.8 million  to 15 CASAC members since 2000. Imagine the outrage and credibility gap if Big Oil gave that kind of money to scientists who question the ‘dangerous manmade climate change’ mantra.

Today EPA regulations directly impact every family, primarily in their pocket books. From filling up the family car’s gas tanks (ethanol), to their electric bill (war on coal) to purchasing commodities (restrictive land and water usage), every American family is increasingly feeling the pinch.

This short video of one family feeling the EPA pain, with little gain, is provided by EPAAbuse.com:

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The War on Whistleblowers

WhistleblowerOver the past year or two we have written about the Obama administration’s war on whistleblowers. They have carried a scorched earth policy against anyone who has leaked cases of waste, fraud and abuse to the media.

They have terminated the employment of people, pursued them in court and attempted to destroy their lives. And they have done this in contravention to specific federal laws that prohibit such actions.

Executive departments have been using restrictive nondisclosure agreements that many in the Congress and the legal community deem to be in violation of federal law.

In November 2012, the DOE asked contract employees to sign an agreement to prohibited from reporting any wrongdoing without the permission of an agency supervisor.They also barred them from receiving any reward money for reporting wrongdoing; another possible violation of federal law.

Now, it has been revealed that public corporations are attempting to suppress leaks by whistleblowers using a variety methods, most of which have been deemed illegal by the Securities Exchange Commission. The SEC is the hall monitor of American corporations and they take their job seriously.

Whistleblowers in the private sector are protected by the False Claims Act that was passed during the Civil War to punish war profiteers. Since then there have been subsequent laws passed to protect whistleblowers.

In 2010, Congress passed the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, which established the Office of the Whistleblower at the SEC. The law also created a bounty program at the SEC to pay whistleblowers.

But this hasn’t stopped corporations from carrying out retaliations against those who blow the whistle on suspect activities. Experts say corporations are trying to shield themselves by creating rigid internal reporting rules, such as requiring people to report wrongdoing to their supervisors at work before going to outside investigators. Companies are also asking workers to sign agreements that bar them from speaking out or benefiting from the bounty program.

“I’m very concerned about these kinds of agreements,” said Stephen L. Cohen, associate director of the Division of Enforcement at the SEC. “It is likely that a lot of people are not coming to us because of these agreements. Anything that inhibits a person’s desire to come forward to tell us about violations of the law is deeply troubling.”

 

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Wasting Money by Legislative Fiat

Green Mountain CoffeeNot all of the money that the Federal government wastes is egregious. Much of it is wasted on programs that are passed into law by Congress and signed by the President.

The government is replete with programs that make absolutely no sense in the big picture of federal spending but survive because they have a friend in Congress or a pressure group to push their agenda. Many have both.

Ronald Reagan once said that the closest thing to immortality was a Federal program and he has been proven correct time after time. Calls for commissions and independent boards simply highlights Congress’ lack of political will when confronted with this problems.

Here are some of the money-wasters in our government.

The USDA spends $173 million per year on their Market Access Program. The original idea was to help American businesses by facilitating international sales. Instead, this program has turned into something else.

The USDA and the Distilled Spirits Council of the United States recently hosted a five-day liquor lobby tour for journalists. The USDA supplied the liquor lobby with a $400,000 subsidy to shuttle international journalists to distilleries in Kentucky, Virginia, and Tennessee.

Then we have the government promotion of the mohair industry in the United States. Then, of course, the U.S. government’s promotion of the all-important walnut industry.

How about the International Trade Administration Market Development Cooperator Program? According to Sen. Tom Coburn’s Wastebook, the program spent $284,300 of federal funds to send American indie music executives on an international tour to promote the “independent” music industry.

The International Trade Administration’s Featured U.S. Exporters  Program helps American businesses export their products. Beneficiaries of federal funds through FUSE include ventures such as Ganache for Lips lip balm and iWood, a wooden sunglasses manufacturer.

Department of Energy Research and Development Subsidies for Conventional Fuels is another program that seemingly makes no sense based on the current administration’s ideology.

The DOE actually spends $593 million subsidizing research and development to advance coal, natural gas, oil and other fossil energy technologies. 

The DOE Strikes again with their Advanced Manufacturing Office Grant Program. The DOE provides taxpayer money to “green” technology companies in the form of grants through this program.

One example includes a $2.5 million grant to TIAX LLC to work with Green Mountain Coffee to reduce the energy used in roasting coffee beans. An idea whose time has truly come.

Then there is the senseless National Technical Information Service. The NTIS catalogues scientific and research papers that can be ordered by taxpayers for a fee. Yet the vast majority of the NTIS catalogue is accessible online at no cost to the user. Although the NTIS is supposed to be self-funding, it loses money annually.

There is the Small Business Association’s Startup America Partnership. This program promises to invest $2 billion of public money in start-ups over five years.

Some of the vital enterprises sponsored by this government program include a weight-sensing skateboard and a Lollipop dispensary. Why we would need such things is beyond but not beyond those geniuses in our nation’s capital.

Another unnecessary expenditure is the USDA’s Farmer’s Market and Local Food Promotion Program. Starting this year, the USDA will shell out $30 million to help establish trendy farmers’ markets and promote local food. Add this to the glut of other subsidies agriculture special interests receive from the government.

Finally, we have the Big Kahuna of wasteful programs: The Export-Import Bank. Often referred to as ‘Boeing’s Bank’ by detractors, the Ex-Im Bank handed out $27.3 billion in taxpayer-backed subsidies for favored businesses during 2013.

The bank claims to help small businesses, but the largest recipients of taxpayer loans include huge corporations such as Boeing, which has profited from 197 Ex-Im deals worth $48 billion over the last five years.

 

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Gaming the System: Fraud and Abuse in the Federal Government

Gaming the SystemThe Federal establishment is huge with millions of employees, some of whom know how to game the system for their own benefit.

There is the well known case of fake spy John Beale, a movie-worthy drama about a high-ranking EPA official who fooled co-workers for years and swindled the government out of hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Beale convinced his superiors that he was a spy who required time off to carry out his espionage duties. Instead, he was at home reading or exercising. In the course of this scam Beale defrauded the government of almost $900,000. He is currently serving 32 months in prison.

Apparently, fraud and abuse carried out by Federal employees is widespread. Former Inspector General Earl Devaney said:

It happens everywhere. I don’t think you’ve got a particularly unusual situation in terms of activity at EPA. You may have one or two very unusual cases. The CIA spy case is, I think, just a mind-blowing one, but there have been others like it.

Take Marcellina Tohonnie, an employee in Interior’s Bureau of Indian Education, who was convicted last year of embezzling cash from a nonprofit that assists needy children. She stole more than $23,000 from accounts for nearly 50 American Indian students attending an Arizona boarding school. She spent the stolen cash on clothes, salon visits and a trip to Las Vegas. She was fired early this year.

Then we have the whole issue of pornography viewing by Federal employees. Apparently, it is quite widespread throughout the government.

A former Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory employee was recently sentenced to prison for downloading and viewing child pornography on his Energy Department-issued computer, according to the DOE inspector general’s most recent report to Congress.

The Interior IG found that Bureau of Reclamation employee Timothy Casey had used his government computer to visit child pornography sites, tracing about 2,800 child pornography images and videos to his government-issued computer. He resigned from his position.

The Social Security Administration’s watchdog found that a former staff information technology specialist sold marijuana on agency property and stole and sold SSA computer equipment.

And at the Commerce Department, the IG’s office found that a Patent and Trademark Office employee improperly claimed to be working and got overtime while on vacation in a foreign country.

Then comes the whole question of firing offenders. “Fire him. Fire him,” Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) told EPA Deputy Administrator Bob Perciasepe last month, referring to an EPA employee who admitted to spending an average of two to six hours per day viewing pornography at work.

The investigation had been accepted by the Justice Department for prosecution, but meanwhile, the GS-14 employee — who earns roughly $120,000 each year — was still on the job.

Perciasepe defended the agency’s actions, noting that terminating agency employees can’t be done without the required administrative or criminal procedures. Perciasepe defended the agency’s actions, noting that terminating agency employees can’t be done without the required administrative or criminal procedures.

In 2013, only 10 employees were fired from EPA, an agency with about 16,000 employees, due to discipline or performance problems, according to data from the Office of Personnel Management. Only 110 employees have been terminated or removed for those reasons since 2008.

 

 

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Gaming the system at the VA

VA Medical CenterAs more detailed are revealed about the patient scheduling scandal at the Veterans Administration, it has become clearer that VA bureaucrats carried out a regular system of gaming the system in order to earn bonuses.

VA scheduling clerks were indoctrinated into an elaborate system of making it appear that veterans were seen by doctors within the department’s 14 day goal rather than the actual 115 days. VA’s Inspector General reported on this system that allowed VA bureaucrats to collect handsome bonuses at the Phoenix, Arizona hospital.

The Inspector General has now expanded the review to 42 VA facilities, more than the 26 initially planned. “We are finding that inappropriate scheduling practices are a systemic problem nationwide,” the report said, noting four different “scheduling schemes” used in VA facilities.

The IG’s preliminary review was critical of the VA’s practices. It found that 226 veterans in Phoenix waited an average of 115 days for their first appointment, with 84 percent waiting more than the department’s 14-day goal. The Phoenix facility had reported those 226 veterans waited an average of 24 days, and only 43 percent waited more than two weeks.

The 35-page preliminary report noted that scheduling issues were hardly a new problem, and noted that the IG had issued 18 reports since 2005 identifying “deficiencies in scheduling resulting in lengthy waiting times and the negative impact on patient care.”

Should bureaucrats be made to give back the bonuses that they unfairly earned? Or will their union fight for them to keep them?

Basically, fraud against the Federal government and its taxpayers was committed by Federal employees. By gaming the scheduling system, VA bureaucrats earned millions of dollars in illegal bonuses.

If this type of behavior was carried out in the real world by employees in private industry the repercussions would be dramatic. Employees would be terminated. Lawsuits to recover the bonuses would be instituted and people could go to jail.

It remains to be seen if the Obama administration will bring the full weight of the law on this larcenous bureaucrats.

 

 

 

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