Agencies sitting on $70B in unspent funds, report finds

A congressional report released today outlines $70 billion of unspent federal dollars that could have helped disaster victims, spurred highway construction and ...

A congressional report outlines $70 billion of unspent federal dollars that could have helped disaster victims, spurred highway construction and funded education programs.

Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.), who released the report today, said the languishing funds are due to “poorly drafted laws, bureaucratic obstacles and mismanagement, and a general lack of interest or demand from the communities to which this money was allocated,” according to a release.

Sen.Tom Coburn (R-Okla) (AP)
Lack of congressional oversight in spending only leads to more unneeded, wasteful spending, Coburn said.

“The exception to the proverb ‘a penny saved is a penny earned’ is the federal government, where an unspent dollar represents lost opportunities to reduce the debt or to assist an individual, a family, or a community. Nearly every challenge we face conjures up the same response from Washington: spend more money,” Coburn said.

The report’s findings include:

  • Nearly one-fourth of the $19.7 billion for disaster recovery funds at the Department of Housing and Urban Development have remained unspent — five years after Hurricane Katrina, where more than 350,000 homes were destroyed.
  • Nearly one-fourth of $35 billion in disaster grants is unspent at the Homeland Security Department. FEMA said the delays were caused by too many federal regulations.
  • More than $1 billion in transportation funds are unspent in three states — Virginia, Maryland and Georgia.
  • More than a decade after 9/11, billions are unspent of the $11.3 billion that Congress appropriated for direct aid and tax benefits to New York City.
  • A program at the Energy Department to prevent the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. As of 2007, Energy had $30 million in reserves for this program.
  • The Department of Justice has not spent $100 million allocated for body armor for the agency’s law enforcement officers.
  • The Environmental Protection Agency has held more than $122 million in funds for special projects, appropriated by Congress more than five years ago.

Read the full report.


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