For federal agencies, Christmas comes in September. For in the final month of the fiscal year, federal agencies scramble to spend what’s left of their annual budgets. They don’t want to leave any in the pot in case they receive less next year. It’s called the “use it or lose it” phenomenon.
All of which reveals a high-handed distain for us, the poor bloody taxpayer who gets to fund the non-essentials they come up with to blow the surplus cash. (Don’t they know we’re in a huge deficit?).
Our friends at OpenTheBooks have produced their OpenTheBooks oversight report on the fiscal year 2018 use-it-or-lose-it spending spree.
They discovered that in the last week, federal agencies blew through $53 billion in contracts – that’s $1 in $10 of all contract spending for the year – a 15% increase on the previous year.
Here are ten ways the government spent your tax dollars in last year’s use-it-or-lose-it spending spree:
- Executive Office of the President – In the final month of fiscal year 2018, President Donald Trump’s office signed 16 contracts, purchasing office furniture, passenger vehicles, cameras, newspaper subscriptions, etc. totaling $26.8 million. From 2015 to 2018, there was a 60-percent increase in use-it-or-lose-it spending by the office of the president. Come on Mr. President, your staff can do better.
- Fine dining – The Department of Defense (DOD) bought snow crab, Alaskan king crab, crab legs and claws, and lobster tails totally $1.6 million in September 2018 and $25.4 million during an 18-month period. Additionally, agencies spent nearly $300,000 on high-end steak.
- Makeovers – In the final month of fiscal year 2018, federal agencies signed nearly 10,000 contracts to purchase furniture. Notably, the Department of Defense spent $9,341 on a Wexford leather club chair.
- Booze – The Department of Defense and the Department of State purchased a great deal of beer, wine, and whisky.
- $800 Million buys you an armed militia – Fifteen agencies made last-minute purchases of guns, ammo, and other weaponry during the final month of the fiscal year. Tell me why the Department of Veterans Affairs, the Office of Personnel Management, the Small Business Administration, and the Environmental Protection Agency bought more than $100,000 in guns and ammunition?
- Feel the Burn – Federal agencies spent $462,791 on treadmills and dumbbells and $22,505 on CrossFit equipment. Also, $1.2 million was spent on playground equipment, $50,000 on skis and ski poles, and $12,000 on a foosball table.
- Read the report for free. Download your copy now.
- Look at me! – The feds already employ 5,000 public affairs officers. It wasn’t enough. They blew through another $462 million in the last month.
- Nice wheels – Federal agencies signed nearly 3,000 transportation-related contracts in the final month of fiscal year 2018. Agencies purchased passenger vehicles from Navistar Defense, Ford Motor Company, and General Motors. Additionally, the government purchased nontraditional vehicles including golf carts, motorcycles, and snowmobiles.
- Updating their phones – Federal employees contracted with AT&T, Apple, and T-Mobile to buy iPads at Veterans Affairs, cellular data at the Department of Defense, and a bulk order of iPhone 8s and Blackberry replacements. The Department of State spent $107,097 on Apple’s latest iPhone X and screen protectors.
- $49 Million on knick-knacks – Last-minute shopping spree purchases range from batteries and books, to toys and tableware. The Army and Navy spent $53,000 on china tableware; the Army Recruiting Command purchased $42,500 on inflatable games; and the Air Force Junior ROTC spent $34,000 on model rockets.
These examples are just the tip of the iceberg.