Friday, November 13, 2015

Government is Just What We Call the Things We Do Together

And what we seem to do is to reward incompetence and outright fraud. EPA punishes Gold King spill disaster contractor with… millions in new contract awards
It’s a banner day for thrift and spending control in the federal government. Earlier, Ed already talked about the cash bonanza at the VA, but that’s being followed up by breaking news from the Environmental Protection Agency. You probably recall that unpleasant little incident at the Gold King mine in Colorado where they spilled millions of gallons of toxic sludge into the local river system. Well, the contractor who was employed by the agency during that particular disaster has been identified and the EPA had a good, long talk with them. The result was to award them millions of dollars in new contract enhancements because… why quit now just when things are going so well? (Daily Caller)
Environmental Protection Agency officials awarded nearly $2.7 million in contract enhancements to Environmental Restoration LLC after the firm was involved in the Colorado Gold King Mine disaster that dumped three million gallons of yellow wastewater into a drinking water source for people in three states and the Navajo Nation.
The wastewater poured into the Animas River, a Colorado River tributary that supplies water to people in Colorado, New Mexico and Utah. The company also got a contract enhancement worth nearly $1 million from EPA on Aug. 4, 2015, the day before the spill, according to documents compiled by the Project on Government Oversight, a non-profit government watchdog group.
If you followed our earlier coverage of the lavish spending which goes on at the EPA you already know about the designer furniture sprucing up their offices and the number of employees on long term paid leave. The Daily Caller spoke to Adam Andrzejewski, founder of the Open The Books government transparency non-profit. Adam has been tracking this as closely as anyone and it seems as if this series of embarrassing revelations is reaching a tipping point.
“The EPA has taken the concept of ‘performance bonus’ much too far by giving their on-site contractor even more work after a natural disaster at Gold Ring,” Andrzejewski told TheDCNF.
“Had the spill soiled one of the EPA’s $730 office chairs, the contractor would have been fired on the spot. If the EPA spent as much time choosing contractors as they do shopping for furniture and military hardware, our environment would be a much cleaner place,” he said.
This isn’t anything new for the EPA. Let’s move on to the bonus round and look back to 2012 when the agency spent your tax dollars on a Chinese study of pig excrement. No… I’m not making that up.
Oh, I'm sure they choose their contractors carefully, being sure the feather their own nests.

But that's not all folks:  VA officials punished in 2014 for systemic fraud by … getting $142 million in bonuses
Remember when then-VA Secretary Eric Shinseki announced in May 2014 that bonuses would be canceled in light of the systemic fraud involving wait lists at numerous VA facilities? What Shinseki failed to mention was that the cancellation only impacted a small number of VA officials. USA Today reports that the Veterans Administration paid out more than $142 million in bonuses for 2014, despite the fact that veterans are waiting longer than ever for care:
The Department of Veterans Affairs doled out more than $142 million in bonuses to executives and employees for performance in 2014 even as scandals over veterans’ health care and other issues racked the agency.
Among the recipients were claims processors in a Philadelphia benefits office that investigators dubbed the worst in the country last year. They received $300 to $900 each. Managers in Tomah, Wis., got $1,000 to $4,000, even though they oversaw the over-prescription of opiates to veterans – one of whom died.
The VA also rewarded executives who managed construction of a facility in Denver, a disastrous project years overdue and more than $1 billion over budget. They took home $4,000 to $8,000 each. And in St. Cloud, Minn., where an internal investigation report last year outlined mismanagement that led to mass resignations of health care providers, the chief of staff cited by investigators received a performance bonus of almost $4,000.
So what happened to the Shinseki order?
But he only curtailed them for a sliver of VA executives — those in senior levels of the Veterans Health Administration, which oversees health care.
The agency has continued to pay performance-based bonuses to nearly half of agency employees, including in health administration, according to data provided to USA TODAY by the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee. In all, some 156,000 executives, managers and employees received them for 2014 performance.
The VA paid bonuses for “the biggest construction failure in VA history,” Denver7 reported last night. Despite poor performance on a massive construction project and being “hopelessly over budget,” managers got over $100,000 in performance bonuses:

Certainly, there are some people at the VA doing the best they can in an agency riddled with sloth and self-serving bureaucrats. However, there is some value in holding the entire agency to task for it's failures. It might encourage the ones doing good work to be more responsible for seeing that their co-workers to do so, and it might convince the slackers that their interests lie in going elsewhere.

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