Tom Coburn has been busy telling the government what it ought to do with its money. On Friday, the Senator highlighted a report from the Government Accountability Office that showed $800 million in federal grant money simply going to waste.
The report from the GAO was released last month, and found that $794 million in over 10,000 federal grants has gone unspent by the fed at the end of the 2011 fiscal year. For example, almost $100,000 was set aside for programs under the Interior Department’s Sportfishing and Boating Safety Act. Authority for the grant expired in 2005, and almost all of the money for it hasn’t been spent – $99,843 to be exact.
“Every member of Congress should be embarrassed after reading this report,” said Coburn, R-Okla. “At a time when our national debt has exceeded the size of our economy, there is no excuse for Congress to stand by and watch while agencies fail to recover millions of dollars through expired grants.”
The GAO report shows that most of these grants are past their expiration dates, when the fed should have closed the accounts about six months after the grant period. Some of the grant accounts are still open – 10 years after their shelf-lives.
The GAO’s report said that the failure to close expired accounts means that the fed could still draw from them for other purposes. The failure to close and audit the accounts properly leaves that $800 million “more susceptible to waste, fraud or abuse.”
The April 16th GAO report was highlighted by Coburn a day after another GAO report (commissioned by the Senator himself) was released that cast some serious doubts as to whether $18 billion in annual taxpayer investment in federal jobs training programs is really yielding any beneficial results.
The GAO report can be found in its entirety here.