Federal waste: DoD spends $1.1M to peek inside puppies’ heads

Former Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) may not work in Congress any longer, but his government waste-fighting legacy lives on.

Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) on Jan. 7 unveiled his fourth installment of his “America’s Most Wasted” report, a tribute to Coburn’s annual “wastebook,” a list of head-scratching uses of taxpayer dollars.

“With spending habits like these, Washington should have only one New Year’s resolution in 2016 — to end this dangerous credit addiction,” McCain said. “Unless we act now to put our fiscal house back in order, future generations will bear the burden for our grave mistakes.

Since Coburn’s retirement in 2015, several members of Congress have taken up iconic federal spending report, including Sens. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.), Dan Coats (R-Ind.), James Lankford (R-Okla.) and Pat Toomey (R-Pa.)


McCain’s observations on federal spending includes the following:

$1.1 million in Pentagon spending for puppy MRIs

McCain, chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, disapproved of a $1.1 million defense research project in which a neuroscientists scanned dogs’ brains and compared them to human brains.

Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) defended funding the research and said findings could be leveraged to “optimize canine selection and training, which will result in more effective service dogs in military and therapy settings.”

But with the Defense Department still wrestling with budget cuts under sequestration, McCain cautioned against spending more on this project.

“In the era of sequestration that has weakened our ability to respond to growing threats around the world, doling out $1,098,805 in taxpayer dollars … for this DoD puppy project is not only irresponsible, but also dangerous.”

Homeland Security spends $1 million annually on warehouses it doesn’t use

The federal government’s real-estate footprint has been a longtime complaint for budget hawks.

Taking a page from a Department of Homeland Security inspector general report, McCain said the agency has been storing unused or broken office supplies that aren’t even worth the cost of the warehouse lease.

The IG’s audit found that Customs and Border Protection leases a nearly empty warehouse In California that contains mostly “old computers, broken equipment, and old office furniture.”

The Government Accountability Office has included federal real property on its annual high-risk list every year since 2003.

Army National Guard spent $13,495 for “bubble soccer” as physical training

Wisconsin National Guard’s Recruit Sustainment Program, McCain reports, spent money on “bubble soccer” during a budget crisis.

Days after purchasing the bubble balls, ( to “prepare newly enlisted soldiers to succeed at basic and advanced training”) the Wisconsin National Guard delayed weekend drills due to a $101 million shortfall in its 2014 budget.

The shortfall also led to a delay in paychecks, which one officer said put soldiers at risk of falling behind on rent and car payments.

bubble soccer
The Army National Guard spent $13,495 in 2014 on “Bubble Bump,” inflatable balls to be used for physical training time in Wisconsin.

“While spending $14,000 on bubble balls seems small in comparison to the Guard’s
$101 million shortfall, the department should be pinching every penny to ensure its
officers won’t have to stretch another paycheck,” McCain said.

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