In what can only be described as a prime example of government waste, NASA spent $349 million on a tower in Mississippi that they never even used. The worst part about the project is that Congress and NASA knew that the tower would never be used four years before the project finished. Instead of scrapping the rest of the tower project and saving hundreds of millions of dollars, Congress demanded that the project be seen to completion. The icing on the cake — it will cost tax payers $700,000 a year to maintain the empty, unused tower.
The Washington Post reported the failed project, noting that the tower is what happens to a big bureaucracy after its sense of mission starts to fade. NASA is the big bureaucracy the report speaks to, as it seems that the agency no longer has a firm mission. With projects constantly being scrapped and government bodies constantly at ends on exactly where the agency should be spending its time and effort, NASA seems to no longer know what mission will actually make it to the table.
Instead, the Post reports NASA is being used by Congress for infusing money into their communities.
“Its congressional overseers tended to view NASA first as a means to deliver pork back home, and second as a means to deliver Americans into space.”
The Mississippi tower project exemplifies the problems within pork barrel spending and inconsistent goals. The tower broke ground back in 2007. However, in 2010, the rocket that was to be tested at the site was scrapped. Therefore, the specialized tower, called the A-3 test stand, was no longer needed. However, instead of stopping the project in 2010 when Congress and NASA realized the tower would no longer be needed, Congress did something that seems almost insane — they demanded the project continue. Millions of dollars to be washed down the drain building a tower they knew would not be used, but the demand ensured the infusion of money into Mississippi as promised.
The employees working on the project as contractors also felt betrayed. David Forshee, a general foreman who spent 18 months helping build the tower, said it “is heartbreaking” to find out something like this when you thought you were “doing something good.” Forshee says he had no idea the project would be scrapped upon completion. Though Forshee was paid for his time working on the project, it didn’t stop him from having some harsh words to those who insisted the project continue even after it wasn’t needed.
“What the hell are they doing? I mean, that’s a lot of people’s hard-earned money.”
Though many people see the project as a waste of tax payer money, Mississippi Senator Roger Wicker (R) thinks it is something “positive” that we will look back on in the future, according to NewsMax.
“Wicker, who was unable to identify a specific NASA program that the tower could be used for, was asked how he managed to get the amendment through Congress even though the moon project had been put on hold. ‘Just talented legislating,’ he replied.”
What do you think about Congress and NASA spending $349 million and $700,000 a year thereafter for maintenance on a tower they have no intention of using? Is there any benefit to having the tower completed?