The Government’s ‘Use it or Lose it’ Syndrome

While a government shutdown appears imminent, due to political gridlock surrounding budget negotiations, the government has continued to do what they do best: spend taxpayer dollars. Most agencies’ primary concern over the past week has been to spend the remainder of their fiscal year budget instead of relinquishing the unused funds to help save money.

This so-called ‘use it or lose it’ culture promotes wasteful spending and an overall lack of concern for fiscal responsibility. It’s part of the dysfunctional bureaucratic attitude in Washington that prevails across all sections of the federal government.

The fiscal year ends on September 30 and the new fiscal year begins October 1. This ‘use it or lose it’ philosophy means that every agency must use all of the funds allotted to them for the fiscal year by today or that money will be lost and they won’t be able to use it. In that event, Congress could decide that since that particular agency didn’t use all of the funds allotted to them, the amount of money in future budgets should be cut.

So basically every year around September, you see a huge spending spree from government agencies. The reality is that an agency is penalized for saving money and given a pat on the back for spending it, no matter what it’s spent on.

This weekend, The Washington Post reportedThe Department of Veterans Affairs bought $562,000 worth of artwork. In a single day, the Agriculture Department spent $144,000 on toner cartridges. And in a single purchase, the Coast Guard spent $178,000 on ‘Cubicle Furniture Rehab.’”

Now you would think that in a time of budget cuts and austerity those agencies could find a better use for their funds. Instead of buying artwork, the VA could have met some veterans’ disability claims, or implement a bonus incentive to employees who are processing the most. How about hiring more medical staff at VA hospitals? And ‘Cubicle Furniture Rehab’ is a fancy way of saying they bought a large amount of unnecessary office furniture to make employees offices shiny and pretty.

If congress is serious about spending reform and budget cuts they must acknowledge the perverse incentives at work. They might want to start with the backwards, illogical fiscal year ‘use or lose’ culture inside the government that promotes waste and irresponsibility. They can make all of the cuts they want, but until they get to the root of the problem — the endemic spending culture — real reform will not occur. And it isn’t going to be simple, which is why most politicians won’t address it. Most would rather make untargeted cuts to the military that only mask the problem.

Spending reform starts with acknowledging where the problem lies. Leadership must address the ‘use or lose’ race to September 30th that happens at the end of every fiscal year is horrifically wasteful and further promotes fiscal irresponsibility. Accountability must take precedence government wide if there is any hope of progress. Agencies need to be incentivized to save money and their surplus funds should be allowed to be roll over into the next fiscal year. Only then will we see change. Until that happens we are only going to see more threats of government shutdowns, more shifting of blame, and more wasteful spending.

This is government hypocrisy at its finest. In the midst of sequestration, budget cuts and a looming government shutdown, agencies across the board are still free to spend as wastefully as they see fit. It’s this lack of accountability and lack of common sense that is constantly plaguing our government. It is a vicious and inept cycle and we, as American taxpayers, are the ones paying the price for their negligence.

Originally published at The Daily Caller:

Follow Amber on Twitter: @AmberBarno

The Unethical Government

In the May 29th, 2013 Gallup poll, 50% of Americans approved of Obama’s performance as President of the United States, while 43% disapprove. It’s almost unbelievable that 50% of Americans still have faith in President Obama. He has lost control of the government he is responsible for due to the unethical culture he created within his own administration. Clearly a massive percentage of Americans just don’t care or aren’t paying attention. But for the 43% who are, most feel some sort of monumental betrayal over the past few months plagued with scandal after scandal.

The mannerisms Obama has carried throughout his presidency over the past five years including the constant shift of blame, ‘it’s Bush’s fault,’ and selectively deciding when he is responsible for events that occur during his administration, are no longer sufficient. With the help of the mainstream media President Obama may have breezed through his first term without having to answer for much of his administration’s actions, but now he is not being afforded that luxury.

Since the IRS, Benghazi, and Department of Justice scandal broke, Obama’s defense has been to downplay the issues at hand.  Instead of facing them head on and demanding answers, he protects those who had direct involvement. Why is he not outraged? Why is he not publicly demanding resignations with the attempt to reassure that this type of behavior will not be tolerated within his administration? That is what the American people need to see out of their president right now.

Instead, the Obama White House continues to fail to acknowledge any wrong doing of Attorney General Eric Holder’s misleading testimony in front of Congress regarding the DOJ scandal. Obama appointed Holder to head the investigation of IRS scandal. That action in itself is a blatant attempt to conceal the truth and further mislead the American people. Additionally, Obama continues to profess that he knew nothing of the IRS targeting Tea Party organizations and other conservative groups, even though the IRS Commissioner visited the White House 157 times since Obama took office in 2009. Just for reference, IRS Commissioner under President Bush’s Administration, Mark Emerson, visited the White House once in four years. That’s right, once.

The Commander in Chief has a unique, but time sensitive opportunity to reconcile with the American people. If he wants to regain the American people’s trust he must make some very calculated and meticulous decisions that result in holding people accountable for their actions under his administration. He must convince the nation that his administration does not operate above the law. He must demand a special prosecutor to investigate the IRS scandal and start calling for resignations. But there is no indicator that Obama wants to expose the truth any more than Eric Holder does, so unfortunately, we most likely will not see any leadership accountability out of the White House. Let’s hope he makes the right choice.

It’s time to reign in your out of control government, Mr. President. We want the truth and an ethically and morally sound government. That’s not too much to ask, right?

Additionally published at The Commentator:

Follow Amber on Twitter: @AmberBarno