51 Disgusting Examples of Government Waste

tax dollars

The federal government is slowly spending the U.S. into oblivion. They take wealth from the productive sector of the economy and then waste it on completely unproductive sectors of the economy.

And they expect that somehow, miraculously, the economy will all of a sudden get better.

Sorry, Charlie, but it doesn’t work that way.

And that’s especially true when the government is blowing money on ridiculous things like: classes on butterfly farming, studies on gay men in Peru, and custom updates for Windows XP. These are all REAL THINGS the government is spending money on. You can find them on the list below.

Alright, here are all 51 disgusting examples of inexcusable government waste, organized into three different categories. This list was compiled by the Heritage Foundation, to whom we owe a big thanks.


1. Medicare Part B paid nearly six times more than Medicare Part D for the same drugs and equipment to treat cancer. Medicare Part B paid $132.9 million for the same medical supplies for cancer treatment for which Medicare Part D paid $22 million.

2. Two federal projects, one concerning the creation of a facility to produce fuel for nuclear reactors, and the other concerning a building to dispose of liquid waste from the first facility, remain incomplete. The National Nuclear Security Administration has already spent nearly $7 billion on these two unfinished projects, which were supposed to cost only $4 billion overall.

3. The construction of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) headquarters was supposed to be complete in 2003. It is nowhere near completion and has already cost taxpayers nearly $4.5 billion.

4. $2.4 million intended for cotton subsidies was misused by Department of Agriculture employees to purchase laptops, two Ford Explorers, and office artwork, among other items.

5. The Department of Defense is set to destroy $1.2 billion worth of ammunition because it does not have an effective inventory system to track supplies across the military services. The services each use different inventory systems, preventing proper data sharing and leading to excess materials.

6. The Department of the Treasury spent $112.7 million on a public relations firm to raise domestic and international public awareness of the new dollar bill’s minor design changes.

7. The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) paid an informant working for Amtrak $854,460 over 20 years to disclose passenger names. The DEA could have received this information free since the Amtrak Police Department, which has access to passengers’ names, is willing to share information with law enforcement partners.

8. After Hurricane Sandy, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) spent $500,000 to completely replace equipment that was not damaged beyond repair. Instead of repairing the equipment at lower cost, NOAA used the opportunity to purchase brand new equipment.

9. The Internal Revenue Service will reportedly pay Microsoft $500,000 for one more year of custom support for Windows XP after failing to meet a deadline that would have secured its operating systems. The IRS is still paying for support for the outdated Windows XP, because it failed to complete the software move to Windows 7.

10. The Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority (MWAA) has been accused of multiple cases of fraud in the development of the Washington, D.C.–area’s light-rail line to Dulles International Airport in northern Virginia. This includes nearly $139 million in purchases for which the MWAA cannot provide documentation.

11. The Department of Defense spent nearly $500 million to purchase military transport planes for the Afghan Air Force, which have since been scrapped. The planes did not meet operational requirements, and the maintenance of the planes was too expensive for the Afghan Air Force.

12. The Defense Department overpaid by $3.3 million for radios for the Afghan Army because the Defense Department did not follow contracting procedures, which would have prevented overpayment.

13. The Department of Homeland Security has one of the largest vehicle fleets of any federal government agency, but according to a recent report by the DHS inspector general, 59 percent of the vehicles are driven less than 12,000 miles a year. In 2012 alone, these underused vehicles cost taxpayers between $35 million and $49 million overall.

14. The Postal Service lost or cannot confirm receiving 37 trailers from a leasing company. The Postal Service continued to pay the lease for the trailers—despite the fact that they were missing—for two years before deciding to buy the titles for the missing trailers. The leasing and the titles purchase cost $287,000 for trailers that remain missing.

15. The IRS bought $11.6 million worth of computer software that remains unused because the IRS did not have the space for it. This happened because the IRS did not have an effective way of keeping inventory for computer software.

16. For more than $6 million annually, the Social Security Administration (SSA) is renting office spaces that remain largely unused or are being misused as storage spaces. According to an Office of the Inspector General report, several of the SSA’s offices are less than 50 percent occupied.

17. Federal agencies paid nearly $50 million to the Department of Commerce’s National Technical Information Service for information that is mostly available free online.

18. During the last few days of the 2014 fiscal year, the State Department purchased a $24,969 LED HD TV for the U.S. embassy in Kabul, Afghanistan.

19. According to an Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Inspector General report, employees at the EPA had used government credit cards to purchase $79,300 worth of “prohibited, improper, and erroneous” goods and services. Included in the purchases were gym memberships for EPA employees and their family members, DVDs, and academic memberships.

20. The Mark Twain National Forest in Missouri received up to $100,000 from the U.S. Forest Service to add a 23rd bike trail to the park.

21. The Denver Museum of Miniature Dolls and Toys was awarded $40,810 from the federal Institute of Museum and Library Services to create a digital inventory of its items.

22. Grandiose oil portraits of former government agency heads continue to cost taxpayers roughly $20,000 for each new painting.

23. U.S. Marshals Service wasted $2 million on “swag” gifts, like golf balls, mini-footballs, police-car-shaped stress toys, golf towels, and poker chips in order to build cooperation and camaraderie within the office.

24. According to the Government Accountability Office, duplication of federal programs and services costs taxpayers $45 billion annually.

25. Paralegals at the Patent Trial and Appeal Board were paid $5.1 million over four years as they watched Netflix, shopped online, and used social media while on the clock.

26. The National Endowment for the Humanities provided $47,000 for undergraduate classes that teach students about laughing and the nature of humor. The classes will focus on how humor differs between cultures and how it can be used to deal with tragedies.

Corporate Welfare

27. The Department of Agriculture’s Market Access Program provided $400,000 to the liquor lobby, which used part of those funds to transport foreign journalists to different breweries and distilleries in the southeastern United States.

28. The International Trade Administration spent $284,300 to send American indie music executives on an international tour to promote the “independent” music industry.

29. The U.S. Enrichment Corporation received $60 million from the federal government despite the company announcing plans to declare bankruptcy.

30. One coffee plantation in Hawaii received a $25,000 grant from the Department of Agriculture to use solar power to dry coffee beans. Coffee bean farmers have been using the sun, in one way or another, to dry their beans for centuries.

31. The Department of Agriculture awarded a $37,475 grant to teach northern Nevada farmers what kind of fruits and vegetables the Hispanic community enjoys and how to market them to Hispanics.

32. The Department of Agriculture awarded a $50,000 grant to “Mary’s Alpaca,” an alpaca farm in The Plains, Virginia. This grant came from the Agriculture Department’s “rural development funds” and is intended to support the farm’s business of packaging, selling, and marketing alpaca manure.

33. In an attempt to create more jobs in butterfly farming, the Department of Agriculture granted $500,000 to the Euchee Butterfly Farm to train Native American members of the Thlopthlocco Tribal Town in butterfly farming.

Questionable Federal Research

34. In an attempt to fight childhood obesity and type II diabetes, the National Institutes of Health has granted more than $10 million toward the creation of video games that they hope will encourage children to eat healthier and exercise more. One of the games, “Escape from Diab,” is about five children who must get healthy enough to escape from a town full of obese people and their evil king.

35. The National Institutes of Health spent $466,642 to research whether a lack of social skills is the reason why obese girls are asked on fewer dates, yet engage in more risky sexual behaviors than slimmer girls.

36. The National Institutes of Health spent more than $2 million to study how singing in a choir affects the health of “minority elders,” including how choir singing promotes body strength and reduces falling incidents among the elderly.

37. In an effort to understand whether gay men in Peru test positive for syphilis after treatment due to treatment failure or re-infection, the National Institutes of Health spent $330,000 to study the lifestyle and health of men who have sex with men and transgender persons in Peru.

38. The National Institutes of Health spent $374,000 to study whether preschoolers will eat more vegetables after watching a puppet show about fruits and vegetables.

39. The National Science Foundation granted more than $200,000 to a Yale University research project that is trying to determine how and why Wikipedia has a systematic gender bias. Researchers believe this is a step toward understanding and addressing gender disparities in academia.

40. The U.S. Army awarded a $91,318 grant to the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation to count and determine the population of “little brown bats” in and around Fort Belvoir, Virginia. The Army hopes this survey will determine whether the bats should be added to the endangered species list.

41. The National Institutes of Health spent $484,000 to study whether hypnosis can reduce the number and intensity of hot flashes in postmenopausal women and breast cancer survivors.

42. The National Science Foundation spent $300,000 to study how bicycles work and how humans interact with them. The goal of the study was to find a way to make bike riding a more attractive method of travel in order to reduce society’s carbon footprint.

43. NASA spent $360,000 for people to stay in slightly declined beds for 70 days to test the effects of gravity on humans over long durations of time. NASA had already conducted this experiment many times since the 1960s.

44. NASA gave two grants totaling $237,205 to the University of Washington to study how rainfall effects the red crab’s annual migration to Christmas Island. Researchers hope this study will help them better understand the potential consequences of climate change for the red crabs.

45. The Department of Agriculture’s Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education program awarded a $15,000 grant to the Rich Earth Institute in Vermont, which specializes in using human urine as fertilizer. This specific grant was to study if human urine could be a fertilizer for hay fields.

46. The National Science Foundation granted $2.9 million to Butler University to create arts, dances, and poems at specific waterways in Indianapolis. The goal of the project is to educate citizens about their city’s urban waterways through artistic expression.

47. The National Institutes of Health’s Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine spent $387,000 to study the healing effects of Swedish massage on rabbits.

48. The Department of the Interior’s U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service spent $10,000 to monitor the growth rate of saltmarsh cordgrass in an attempt to better understand how cordgrass should be treated and how it can be used to protect marshes.

49. The National Institutes of Health’s Center for Research Resources spent $371,026 for a study to determine if mothers have the same neurological reaction when looking at pictures of their children and their dogs.

50. The National Science Foundation spent $856,000 to study the wildlife habits of mountains lions through a scientific collar. The study included teaching mountain lions how to walk on treadmills and monitoring the amount of energy used in a mountain lion’s pounce.

51. The National Institutes of Health spent $1,552,145 on the development of a smartphone game called “Kiddio: Food Fight.” The game is intended to teach parents how to convince their children to eat healthier foods.