Bankrupting America Launches New Web Series “The Government”

July 25, 2013

Media Contact: Public Notice Press Office | 571.970.6490 | Press@ThePublicNotice.org

Bankrupting America Launches New Web Series “The Government”

Arlington, Va.Bankrupting America, a project of Public Notice, today launched the pilot episode of a multi-part web series titled, “The Government,” which follows the day-to-day office life of a federal agency trying desperately to spend their way to a bigger budget.

It’s the fourth quarter at the Department of Every Bureaucratic Transaction (DEBT) and the race is on to use every last dime of taxpayer money. If they don’t spend it, they lose it. And with just a few weeks before the fiscal year ends, DEBT is under-budget and time is running out.

Reports show that government agencies have wasted millions of dollars on happiness experts, romance novels, portrait artists, lavish conferences and other frivolous perks. In addition, an agency inside the Department of Defense recently issued a memo underscoring the importance of meeting their spending targets and exhausting 100 percent of their resources at a time when hundreds of thousands of employees are facing furloughs.

Gretchen Hamel, executive director of Public Notice, issued the following statement on “The Government”:

“The broken budgeting system in Washington rewards waste and abuse with more tax dollars and creates a spend-it-or-lose-it culture that has spread throughout every agency. This web series highlights the serious problem of spend-it-or-lose-it by exposing the absurdity of how the federal government is operating and urging lawmakers to push for reform.  The president speaks frequently about being responsible stewards of the taxpayer dollar.  That won’t happen until we end spend-it-or-lose-it.”

“The Government” is part of Bankrupting America’s Spend It Or Lose It campaign, which includes an online petition calling on Washington to revamp the budgeting process and stop wasting tax dollars by rewarding fiscally irresponsible behavior.  The campaign was launched last week to coincide with the explosion of government spending that occurs each fiscal year in the fourth quarter.

Click here to sign the Spend It Or Lose It Petition and take a stand against Washington’s broken budgeting process.

Check out the conversation on Twitter using the hashtag #CutItOut.

Click here to learn more about the history of “spend it or lose it” budgeting and here for a full weekly breakdown of government spending from 2010-2012.

Background:

IRS Division Managers Defend Spending Because Unused Funds Would Have Lapsed: “The [IG] report found IRS officials paid thousands of dollars to pay motivational speakers, who were flown to the conference on the taxpayer dime, sometimes in first class. … The funds came from a $132.7 million pool that division received to hire about 1,300 employees. Division managers told TIGTA that they actually made over 1,500 hires during that fiscal year, the majority of which were front-line employee.  But since the hires had not been on board for the full year, the division had unused funds that would have lapsed at the close of fiscal 2010.”(Peter Schroeder And Bernie Becker, “IG Report Finds Broad, Wasteful Spending On IRS Conferences,” The Hill, 6/5/13)

IRS Video Production Unit Costs Taxpayers $4 Million A Year: “The Senate’s top tax-writer wants answers from the IRS about a‘Star

Trek’ spoof that the tax-collecting agency has now apologized for making. … Baucus also questioned why the IRS had a video production unit at all — especially at its reported $4 million a year price tag. The ‘Star Trek” parody and a separate takeoff on “Gilligan’s Island” cost around $60,000 in tandem, the IRS has said.” (Bernie Becker, “Baucus to IRS: How did the ‘Star Trek’ video happen? Who’s responsible?,” The Hill, 3/27/13)

IRS Spent $11K On A “Happiness Expert” To Lead A 90 Minute Workshop: “The IRS hired 15 speakers to present at the conference in Anaheim, Calif., including $11,430 for positive psychology guru Shawn Achor — referred to as a ‘happiness expert’ by the sources — to lead a 90-minute workshop” (Kelly O’Donnell and Andrew Rafferty, “2010 IRS Conference Featured ‘Happiness Expert,’ $17K Art Session,” CNBC, 6/4/13)

IRS Credit Cards Used For Wine, Romance Novels, Diet Pills And Pornography. (Stephen Ohlemacher,”IRS Credit Cards Used For Wine, Pornography,” The Associated Press, 6/25/13)

Lavish Spending At GSA Commissioners Reception:  “Tangherlini, who is conducting an extensive review of GSA’s day-to-day operations, became alarmed by the cost of the Nov. 17, 2010, event and referred it to Miller for review. The Arlington celebration pulled out all the stops: a $7,697.22 ‘commissioners reception’ for high-ranking officials; 4,000 picture frames showing time and temperature at a cost of $28,364,45 to taxpayers; five passenger buses, two minibuses and a van for $5,390. And a whopping $20,578. 24 paid for 4,000 drumsticks for a team-building exercise.” (Lisa Rein, “GSA spent more than $270,000 to entertain employees who got performance awards,” The Washington Post, 7/19/12)

DOD Agency Races To Achieve Its Goal Of Spending 100% Of Available Resources This Fiscal Year. “‘Our available funding balances remain large in all appropriations — too large to spend’ just on small supplemental funds often required by existing contracts, the June 27 e-mail said. DISA’s budget is $2 billion. ‘It is critical in our efforts to [spend] 100% of our available resources this fiscal year,’ said the e-mail from budget officer Sannadean Sims and procurement officer Kathleen Miller. ‘It is also imperative that your organization meets its projected spending goal for June. . .’” (Al Kamen, “Defense Agency Looking For Ways To Spend,” The Washington Post’s In The Loop Blog, 7/10/13)

Emails Encouraging Spending Are “Common Practice Among Government Agencies.” “A DISA spokesperson e-mailed to say that these e-mails are ‘common practice among government agencies’ and that many congressional “financial and procurement timelines . . .are designed to ensure that agencies” spend 80 percent of their funds before the last two months of the fiscal year, or by August 1.” (Al Kamen, “Defense Agency Looking For Ways To Spend,”The Washington Post’s In The Loop Blog, 7/10/13)

 

To schedule an interview, please contact Public Notice Press Office at (571) 970-6490 or e-mail Press@ThePublicNotice.org.

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BankruptingAmerica.org is an educational project of Public Notice, an independent, nonpartisan, non-profit, 501(c)(4) organization dedicated to providing facts and insight on the effects public policy has on Americans’ financial well-being.

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