In the Coast Guard's Defense, It's Cheaper to Make Your Own Beer Than to Buy Microbrews

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I don't know about you, but I never get tired of stories about the crazy shit our public servants buy with their government-issued credit cards. A recent investigation by the Government Accountability Office turned up these amusing items among purchases by officials of the Homeland Security Department:

  • $68,500 for 2,000 unused dog booties
  • $7,790 for a 63-inch plasma monitor that, per The New York Times, "sat for six months, unused, in its original carton" (until it was hauled out to watch the Super Bowl? to play Grand Theft Auto?)
  • $7,000 for iPods, to be used by the Secret Service for (ahem) data storage (now you know what those little earpieces are for)
  • hundreds of thousands of dollars for computers that vanished right after they were bought
  • $227 for a beer brewing kit to supply Coast Guard parties

The GAO, reports the Times, found that "45 percent of purchases did not have appropriate preauthorization by supervisors and that 63 percent did not include documentation stating whether the goods or services had been received." Department spokesman Russ Knocke responds that "more resources have been spent on investigating these anomalies than the amount of resources actually lost."

Got that? It's the GAO that's wasting taxpayers' money, by investigating how other people are. Think of how much money we could save if only the GAO would stop paying attention to this stuff.

NEXT: An Internal Probe? Sounds Uncomfortable.

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  1. Anomalies? 63% is not an anomaly, it’s SOP, by definition. Sounds like the anomaly is when anyone actually bothers to follow the rules. But hey, it’s not their own money they’re spending, and it’s for our homeland security. Probably for the children, too.

  2. iPods? Are these things good for data storage? My experience with them is that you are significantly limited in what you can do with the data on them. Also, isn’t there a data storage option that’s less about looking cool and more about functionality? Perhaps there is some unexplored kinship between hipsters and agents, maybe the aviator shades connection.

  3. I am all for government accountability and all, and against wasteful government spending, but I just can’t get angry over my taxes buying beer for the military.

    I just can’t.

  4. Typical lazy bureaucrats.

    They had a sweet 63 inch plasma TV just sitting in the box, with no apparent use or purpose, and nobody could be bothered to take it home.

  5. They had a sweet 63 inch plasma TV just sitting in the box, with no apparent use or purpose, and nobody could be bothered to take it home

    This made me laugh out loud.

    I have to agree with the sentiment — why fucking buy the thing if you aren’t gonna do something with it — a shameful waste of waster money

  6. As a homebrewer myself, I am going to defend that last point as well.

    Although, once you start buying better equipment to make better (more consistent) beer, the cost savings go away.

  7. “why fucking buy the thing if you aren’t gonna do something with it — a shameful waste of waster money”

    Asked and answered – but there’s more. Next year. When they submit their budget request. “See we spent this much! We need 10% more this year!” Along with their tired, lame, justifications.

  8. I don’t know about you, but I never get tired of stories about the crazy shit our public servants buy with their government-issued credit cards.

    All I ever get from these stories is heartburn.

  9. 68,500 for 2,000 unused dog booties

    Is that for 2,000 individual booties, or 2,000 sets of four booties each? If that latter, the price really doesn’t seem unreasonable. And I don’t think there is a reliable source for used dog booties–the government is pretty much forced to buy unused booties for all their dog-booty needs.

  10. So, who wants to bet that nobody will lose his/her job?

  11. Great logic. Urban police departments no longer have to investigate muggings or breakins where the cost of the goods is less than the police and court time needed to prosecute the perp.

    Well I’m off to Walmart now to steal $24.99 worth of stuff.

  12. So, are there any bottles available of…what would they brew?… Semper Paratus IPA? Cape Maibock? New London Brown Ale? Gitchigumi Pilsner?

    I’m not a wine commonsewer, but I do `fess up to beer snobbery.

    Kevin

  13. fishfry – it’s already pretty much like that. I mean, sure, if you happen to get caught walking out the store with your ill-gotten gains, then the popo will prolly be called, and they will bust you. But if not, no one’s going to come after you.

    It’s like when I got my car stolen – they basically said that if an office got lucky they might run the plates and find out it’s stolen, but no one was going to actually investigate. That would take, like, work and stuff.

  14. I’m ok with the police not investigating this stuff.

    Now if we could only get them to not investigate drugs, and not investigate tax evasion, and not investigate arms dealing, we’d be good.

    Walmart can get it’s own security.

    If the popo would just stick to investigating murder, rape, and burglary where the amount missing or damaged is large, I would be cool with that.

  15. All this talk of dog booties is just further proof of the pernicious effects of gay marriage!

  16. Lowdog –

    I completely agree with that sentiment. I’ve had several friends here in St. Louis with car thefts and it took repeated calls to get anyone to actually file a report.

    Which of course the insurance company requires for a claim.

    Same BS – we could, like, you know, file a report, but it’s not like we’re ever going to do anything or catch a theif, so why would we bother to file it at all?

    Answer: Because jackass – it’s your job.

  17. kwais – I’m in total agreement with you there.

  18. once you start buying better equipment to make better (more consistent) beer, the cost savings go away

    Well, if those same Coast Guard officials continue to make their own beer while ordering others to buy it from the store to save money – it will become a case of “brew as I say, not as I brew.”

    *ducks*

  19. I suspect that some of this stuff is getting fenced. Particularly the ipods and computers.

  20. I suspect that some of this stuff is getting fenced. Particularly the ipods and computers.

    Or given away. I know this guy who works for Santa Barbara County. Two years ago his department’s budget hadn’t been spent yet and the end of the fiscal year was coming up, so he and his cronies bought a stack of iPods (among other things) so that their budget wouldn’t be reduced the following year. In fact, I ended up with one of them because last year his department’s budget hadn’t been spent yet and the end of the fiscal year was coming up, so he and his cronies bought another stack of iPods (among other things). He left one on a table at a restaurant one day, and I picked it up. When I called him to return it he told me I should just keep it since he had several more.

    Your tax dollars at work.

  21. I completely agree with that sentiment. I’ve had several friends here in St. Louis with car thefts and it took repeated calls to get anyone to actually file a report.

    When my car got broken into in Detroit (I wouldn’t have minded if they stole the damn thing, but their half-assed attempt to hotwire locked the electronics which had to be replaced by the dealer), I tried calling the police but just kept getting the answering machine (and the police don’t return messages). I told AAA that I couldn’t get in touch with anyone and they said “Yeah, we understand. No need for a police report”.

    Some people call 911 and say that someone is breaking into the car right then and there (instead of saying they found it with broken glass or whatever)… that is pretty much the only way to get police interest in a car breakin.

  22. quote:

    “68,500 for 2,000 unused dog booties

    Is that for 2,000 individual booties, or 2,000 sets of four booties each? If that latter, the price really doesn’t seem unreasonable.” -parse

    That was my first thought too. Unfortunately, Foster and Smith sell them for ~$15/set, i.e. $30,000 for 2000 sets or $7,500 for 500. Either way the gov got taken (again).

    “2000 unused booties” implies that x number of “booties” were ordered and used. If x=5, then that’s a major problem. If x=3,000, then an extra 2000 sitting around doesn’t sound so bad. Dog boots should have a pretty good shelf-life afterall.

  23. Working in the education field, and with parents that have had various educational and government jobs, I wonder just what proportion of government spending is taken up by end-of-year use-up-the-budget spending.

    In some ways I’ve got less of a problem with genuine perks for staff and the like than the just random crap they sometimes order to get rid of the money – because ordering boring stuff they don’t need won’t get investigated like something flashy – iPods or whatever. At least the iPods would get used!

    Makes me wonder what would change if departments and whatever got to KEEP their excess money at the end of the year, rather than having to spend it, no matter how stupidly. Might be an incentive to at least spend the money on stuff to do their mission or something, rather than garbage.

    Even better; rewards for NOT spending the money unnecessarily?

  24. more resources have been spent on investigating these anomalies than the amount of resources actually lost.

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