JLF Triangle Blog

Who’s Watching The Spending?

Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK) writes in this opinion piece about his concern over the Obama administration’s failure to appoint Inspector Generals at State and Defense. IGs are the fiscal watchdogs and, as Coburn points out, provide an excellent return on investment to the taxpayers since they eyeball who’s spending public money on what.

President Obama’s failure to appoint an IG at the State Department for the entirety of his first term is especially egregious. During that time, the State Department’s budget has grown by more than 25 percent when adjusted for inflation. The vacancy at the Department of Defense has been for less time (one year), but the defense budget is much larger (about $600 billion) and is rife with waste.

Each year these posts remain unfilled is costing taxpayers billions of dollars. My office has identified nearly $70 billion in “nondefense” defense spending at the DOD, for everything from beef jerky research to studies on Twitter slang to symposiums on extraterrestrial theology that asked, “Did Jesus die for Klingons too?” I believe a competent IG at the DOD could uncover enough waste to fund developing countries or entire departments like NASA, which has a budget of “only” $19 billion.

In North Carolina, the state Auditor’s office performs a similar function. Democrat Beth Wood seems to be handling her responsibilities well.

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