That's like you or me going to the grocery store without our coupons.
If you don't believe me that there's an ingrained culture of waste and indifference in Washington, maybe you'll believe the eggheads at NASA. I'm sure we all can agree they're among the smartest people on the planet. Here's what NASA's inspector general had to say about why the space agency has been slow to jettison unneeded assets.
Its audit last month noted NASA's "culture" holds it back. The agency's centers are competing for major programs, rewarding a "keep it in case you need it" philosophy.
"This culture has fostered a propensity for centers to build or preserve facilities that duplicate capabilities available elsewhere in the agency or lack an identified mission use," the report said.
It noted NASA has 36 wind tunnels at five sites, 35 rocket test stands at six sites and 40 large thermal vacuum chambers at seven sites.
I asked members of the Lehigh Valley's delegation in Washington what they think.
Democratic Sen. Bob Casey did not respond to a request for comment, but Republican Rep. Charlie Dent told me Congress does consider the findings of auditors like the Government Accountability Office. He sits on the House Appropriations Committee and said it will review legislation this week to streamline dozens of possibly ineffective or redundant job training programs, as the GAO had suggested.
But he said even proposals like that are resisted, as supporters of programs on the chopping block rally behind them.
Dent said he agrees there is waste and abuse of funds in Washington, but said eliminating it is an involved process.
"There's not a line item in the federal budget that's called waste, fraud and abuse," he said.
Republican Sen. Pat Toomey, who sits on the Senate's major fiscal committees said, "We have an unbelievably lengthy list of opportunities to reduce wasteful government spending and excessive spending.
"Instead of closing down air traffic control facilities or military bases or FBI offices, maybe what the president could do is cut back on federal employee travel," Toomey said in a statement. "We spend $8 billion a year for federal employees to go to conferences and trips."
He questioned some of the government's spending decisions.
"We spend millions of dollars a year on an old-fashioned-style trolley in St. Louis and millions on a sports diplomacy exchange program," Toomey said. "We have 14,000 vacant and underutilized properties. We spend money for a cowboy poetry festival and a million dollars for taste-testing foods to be served on Mars."
If you've always thought some of your elected leaders were operating on another planet, there's your proof.
Check my blog at http://blogs.mcall.com/watchdog for Toomey's full statement, links to the audits I referenced and more information on the sequester.
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