By Bethany Blankley | The Center Square
Federal agencies spent $100 billion on “use-it-or-lose-it” spending in September, a practice that occurs every year, according to Washington-D.C.-based nonprofit OpentheBooks.com.
Instead of returning unused taxpayer funds to the Treasury Department, “savvy bureaucrats know that if they don’t use up the rest of their allotted budget, they may not receive the same bloated funding the following year,” OpentheBooks.com argues.
Federal spending in fiscal year 2018 equated to a 16-percent increase from fiscal year 2017, and a 39-percent increase from fiscal year 2015, its most recent analysis found.
On average, the federal government spent $3.2 billion per day on contracts throughout the month of September, with spending on the final week days of Sept. 27 and 28 exceeding $10 billion per day.
U.S. Sen. Joni Ernst, R-Iowa, introduced legislation based on OpentheBooks.com’s transparency efforts that would crack down on federal agencies’ “Christmas in September.”
Ernst’s legislation, called the End of Year Fiscal Responsibility Act, would end agencies’ annual 11th-hour spending spree.
It seeks limit agency spending in the last two months of the fiscal year to no more than what it usually spends every month on average.
“This bill won’t end all wasteful spending, but it will force agencies to put more thought into long-term planning and curtail the bad habit of out-of-control impulsive spending,” Ernst said.
Examples of end-of-year spending on federal contracts include a Wexford Leather club chair ($9,241), china tableware ($53,004), alcohol ($308,994), golf carts ($673,471), musical equipment including pianos, tubas and trombones ($1.7 million), lobster tail and crab ($4.6 million), iPhones and iPads ($7.7 million), and workout and recreation equipment ($9.8 million).
“With our national debt now surpassing $22 trillion, Washington should be looking for ways to save by canceling or delaying unnecessary expenses, rather than splurging on end-of-year wish lists,” Ernst said.
Virginia received the most use-it or lose-it contract money in September of $12.3 billion, with Texas receiving the second-most of $8.9 billion. California, Florida and Arizona received $7.1 billion, $4.6 billion and $3.7 billion, respectively.
More than $6.1 billion of use-it or lose-it spending also went to 190 countries, with Afghanistan receiving the most at $356.3 million, followed by India ($590.2 million), Germany ($535.6 million), Japan ($528.9 million), and Iraq ($271.4 million).