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James Lankford

This senator found 100 examples of wasteful federal spending. Here are five of them.


When it comes to saving tax dollars, Washington keeps dropping the ball, at least according to Sen. James Lankford.

The Oklahoma Republican released his annual "Federal Fumbles" report on Monday, which highlights 100 examples of wasteful federal spending.

“Our $20 trillion national debt will continue to increase until we implement spending cuts, government reforms, and create a healthy economy. This Federal Fumbles report provides commonsense examples of ways to limit our spending and fix government inefficiency,” Lankford said in a statement.

In total, the report found over $400 billion in wasteful federal spending.

Here are five examples from the report:

1. Missing military equipment

The Department of Defense's Office of Inspector General released a report last year, which found the DOD was unable to keep track of more than $1 billion in equipment.

Items like Humvees, small arms, mortars and other weapons meant for forces in Iraq could not be tracked. The DOD couldn't confirm that the items had made it to the region, they had no way of knowing that it actually made it in to the hands of Iraqi forces.

"Before allocating funds in the future, Congress should work with the DOD to put in place a system to track equipment from purchase to transfer and every step in between. There should also be consequences for those who do not follow procedures, especially when the result is lost equipment valued at more than $1 billion of your tax dollars," Lankford said in the report.

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2. Paying for weight loss

Over the last five years, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) has spent $1.6 million on research to discover that people will lose more weight if they are paid to shed the pounds.

Researched divided participants into three groups. The first group was given direct financial compensation, members of the second group were entered into a lottery system to incentive weight loss and members of the third group were given daily encouragement, but no financial compensation.

The results of the study have not yet been published, but NIH did a similar study in 2008, which found that the group of people who were paid lost more weight.

"Why the NIH funded this research in the first place is unknown. The average American could have told them that financial incentives work," Lankford said.

3. One-billion dollar trolley

Late in 2016, The Department of Transportation announced a $1.04 billion grant to expand the city of San Diego's trolley services by 10.9 miles. That adds up to about $100 million per mile. The expanded trolley service is expected to be operational by 2021.

However, according to the American Road and Transportation Builders Association, that $1 billion could have paid to pave 100 to 250 new miles of four-lane highways anywhere in the U.S.

4. Federal grazing deficit

Ranchers can graze their cattle on federally owned land for a small fee, which is meant to help cover the cost to maintain the land, but the federal government is drastically undercharging ranchers, according to Lankford's report.

The nationwide federal grazing fee is set at $1.87 per head of cattle. By comparison, a rancher in Oklahoma or Texas pay $8 to $23 for their cattle to graze on private land.

In Fiscal Year 2015, the federal government spent $91.6 million to administer the federal grazing program, but only earned $14.5 million in grazing fees, leaving taxpayers to make up the difference.

Lankford argued that the federal government "should not be in the business of unfairly passing on the costs of maintaining federal grazing lands to the American taxpayer."

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5. Parked cars

The federal government spent about $1.6 billion to purchase around 64,500 passenger cars, trucks and vehicles over four years. In just one year, Fiscal Year 2015, federal agencies spent $3.4 billion to maintain and operate 450,000 vehicles already owned by the government.

The Government Accountability Office conducted a review of three federal agency vehicle purchasing programs and found there's no way of knowing if the cars are actually being used, or just sitting in a parking lot.

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