Computers get old fast. So do monitors, printers, keyboards, etc. When you get a new computer what do you do with the old one? And the one before it. And the one before that one? Get rid of it, right? Not if you’re the United States government. Not by a long shot.
There are lots of reasons conservatives so loudly decry the evils of ‘big government’ not the least of which are waste and (lack of) accountability. The bigger the government the more waste, it’s that simple, there’s no avoiding it. Our massively bloated government flushes hundreds of millions if not billions of taxpayer dollars every year and a new report has shined a spotlight on just how bad government waste really is. Our government’s hoarding habits are costing us a fortune.
The Department of Homeland Security’s Office of Inspector General has released a new audit which shows how the agency is wasting millions of taxpayer dollars each year to lease warehouse space for the purpose of storing old office furniture, obsolete computers and basically a bunch of junk that’s worth less than the expense of the space it’s being stored in. This is the same DHS that managed to spend more than 20 million dollars on conferences last year.
This sort of waste is quickly flushed out by private enterprises with a profit motive, but who’s watching the U.S. government’s books? Apparently, no one.
According to the report, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) leases a 54,000 sq. ft. warehouse in Virginia for about $934,000 per year. Inside the warehouse auditors found mostly broken office furniture and stockpiles of printer/copier paper. Rethink those numbers. Fifty four thousand square feet costing nearly a million dollars a year!
The CBP also pays over a half a million dollars each year to lease another 41,129 sq. ft. warehouse (also in Virginia) to store computer equipment. So that’s one for furniture and paper, another for old computers. Auditors inspected the warehouse and determined that about half the items stored therein were obsolete. A cordial way of saying, “its a bunch of junk.” Have you tried selling a 5- or 6-year old PC lately?
The same CBP also leases another 6,500 sq. ft. storage facility California for $74,000 a year in which it is storing — you guessed it — old computers, broken equipment, office furniture and old books.
“The warehouse is mostly empty, and CBP does not actively manage or conduct physical inventories of the stored items,” auditors wrote in the report, adding that the warehouse appeared to be unused since 2012. That’s coming up on 4 years! Only government can be spending a million dollars plus per year on facilities no one has even been inside of in four years. In each case the investigators estimated the cost of leasing the warehouses exceeded the total cost of the items being stored therein.
The oxymoronically-named “Government Accountability Office” has included federally owned property, including warehouses, on its “high risk” list for waste for several years and for its part the DHS did respond to the report. DHS officials released a statement claiming they are committed to “effective and efficient use of taxpayer dollars through initiatives to identify regional consolidation and shared services opportunities.” Yeah, we can tell.
Watchdog groups were, rightfully, quick to pounce on the report. Mr. Pete Sepp, President of the National Taxpayers Union chimed in, “When it comes to long-term storage, most business owners would balk at leasing space that costs more than the stuff occupying the space is worth. But with the feds, that commonsense equation doesn’t seem to add up.”
Amen, brother. Amen.
[Note: This article was written by Derrick Wilburn]