NOVEMBER 06, 2013
In a shameful example of how government squanders your tax dollars, a federal law enforcement agency blew hundreds of thousands of dollars on promotional items like neckties, scarves and lapel pins displaying its official seal.
This inconceivable waste involves the U.S. Marshals Service (USMS), the Arlington Virginia-based law enforcement agency under the direct authority of Attorney General Eric Holder. The USMS has a force of about 4,000, according to its website, and is responsible for capturing fugitives, transporting federal prisoners and protecting the federal judiciary. It has the distinction of being the nation’s oldest and most versatile federal law enforcement agency.
The USMS also likes to spend public funds on expensive crap like crystal statues that cost $125 each and special boxes with lamb wool blankets that cost $149 a set. Other outrageous expenses include $36,596 for USMS lapel pins, $16,084 on USMS-themed blankets, $13,605 on Christmas ornaments with the agencies logo and $11,338 on neckties and silk scarves plastered with the USMS seal.
In all, the agency spent $793,118 on these promotional items during a five-year period, according to the Department of Justice Inspector General, which put it mildly in determining the expenses were “excessive.” The watchdog found that the growth in “swag” spending was “the result of the absence of internal controls, accountability and good judgment.”
Don’t expect any heads to roll or any sort of reimbursement to taxpayers, however. In fact, this frivolous spending-spree never would have come to light if not for an anonymous letter alleging that the USMS’s Investigative Operations Division was spending “excess end-of-year funding on swag” featuring the agency’s name and seal. Otherwise, it’s highly unlikely any of it would have surfaced publicly.
Besides, this sort of egregious spending is rampant among bloated government agencies. Who can forget the lavish General Services Administration (GSA) conference in Las Vegas that cost taxpayers $823,000? A few years ago the DOJ got blasted by its inspector general for spending more than $120 million to host law enforcement conferences that featured “extravagant and wasteful” costs for food, beverages and event planning. Expenses included $16 muffins for breakfast, $76 lunches, $10 cookies and candy bars that cost more than $7 each.
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