Senator Picks Up Where Coburn Left Off on Reporting Government Waste

A weight loss program for truck drivers, dead people at SSA, and unused solar panels at the VA – these are just some of the items that Senator James Lankford (R-OK) highlights in a new report on wasteful spending in federal agencies that follows a tradition begun by his predecessor, Senator Tom Coburn (R-OK).

Senator James Lankford (R-OK) is picking up right where his predecessor left off with issuing annual waste reports about federal government spending.

Readers of this site may recall former Senator Tom Coburn’s (R-OK) annual Wastebook reports released about this time each year. For some examples of these reports, see Robotic Squirrels, Starbucks, and Marijuana ‘Munchies’: Highlights from Wastebook 2012 and Administrative Leave for ‘Underperforming’ Feds at Top of Coburn’s Annual Wastebook.

Lankford recently issued his version of these annual reports, dubbed Federal Fumbles: 100 Ways the Government Dropped the Ball. A copy of the report is included below.

The report takes various federal agencies to task for what Lankford believes to be wasteful and unnecessary spending of taxpayer money.

Some of the more interesting items in the report are among the following:

  • The data breach at the Office of Personnel Management which left the personal information of millions of federal workers at risk, something the report notes is the largest federal data breach in history
  • $2,658,929 spent by the National Institutes of Health on a weight-loss program for truck drivers
  • $545,000 spent by the State Department for truth-telling consultants, providing training courses to “senior level officials on effective congressional testimony and briefing skills.”
  • $8 million spent by the VA to move unused solar panels on top of a parking structure only to tear them down again two years later after not using them
  • Outdated guidance documents: The report says Federal agencies must do a better job to ensure their guidance documents are up-to-date and easy to find and meet the needs of regulated parties to avoid imposing undue burdens on the public and businesses
  • Failure by the Social Security Administration to maintain accurate records of deceased individuals: The report says that an analysis of SSA files showed that approximately 6.5 million people who are 112 years old or older are still alive, an unlikely probability

The report doesn’t simply provide a list of the Senator’s complaints about government waste, however. It also includes a proposed solution for each item.

Speaking on the report, Lankford said:

“Some of these are obvious issues we’ve faced for a long time…The fumble book that we have isn’t just waste. It’s also areas where the federal government has violated its trusted responsibilities.

With each of these issues, we also lay out a solution… We also highlight some examples where we think the government is already addressing some of these issues. This is not just a matter of all complaints and no solutions. There are some things that are happening correctly. For instance, some of the duplication reports that the GAO has put out for several years, we have made some progress on that duplication. The Department of Justice, just in the past couple of years, has cut their conferencing budget by 2/3 and they are to be commended for that. “

Lankford also says in the report it isn’t intended to simply “collect dust on a shelf” somewhere, but instead he hopes it will be a guide to be used next year to put the government on a path to a balanced budget and begin reducing the overwhelming federal debt.

Federal Fumbles 2015

About the Author

Ian Smith is one of the co-founders of He has over 20 years of combined experience in media and government services, having worked at two government contracting firms and an online news and web development company prior to his current role at FedSmith.