Here’s a nice little piece that shows how media bias works. News about government waste is covered. But NBC chooses to make the lede about waste in the DoD.
Four different branches of the U.S. military are spending millions of dollars to equip troops with combat uniforms in seven different but similar camouflage patterns, says the Government Accountability Office, wasting money and potentially exposing some troops to increased risk on the battlefield.
Many people will only read the headline, or the first paragraph or two, and come away with the conclusion that DoD is the single biggest waste of money in the federal government. Tens of millions of dollars wasted!*
But if you read a little further…
Of the 31 new areas the GAO identified, here are a few examples of areas the GAO found with overlap and duplication:
- Drug abuse prevention and treatment programs: “Federal drug abuse prevention and treatment programs are fragmented across 15 federal agencies … in fiscal year 2012, about $4.5 billion was allocated to these 15 agencies that administer 76 programs that are, in all or in part, intended to prevent or treat illicit drug use or abuse.”
- Renewable energy initiatives: “23 agencies and their 130 sub-agencies implemented 679 renewable energy initiatives in fiscal year 2010…9 agencies implemented 82 overlapping duplicative wind-related initiatives in fiscal year 2011 … including 7 initiatives that have provided duplicative … financial support to the same recipient for a single project.”
But wait, there’s more!
Here are a few examples of areas GAO found with significant potential cost savings or increased revenue:
- Crop insurance subsidies: Congress could save up to $1.2 billion if it reduced or limited subsidies for individual farmers.
- Medicaid supplemental payments: by identifying improper Medicaid payments, HHS could save up to hundreds of millions of dollars.
- Tobacco taxes: the federal government lost as much as $615 million to $1 billion between 2009 and 2011 “because tobacco manufacturers and consumers substituted higher-taxed smoking tobacco products with similar lower tax products.
So, the GAO finds billions in wasted dollars. And NBC mentions it, so no one can accuse them of ignoring it.
But it’s buried so far down, most people will never see it.
*Yes, some uniform decisions are sheer lunacy. But what the GAO report doesn’t say is that any decision to consolidate uniforms would have its own set of costs. Likely, such an act would cost as much or more as maintaining the status quo.