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Mo’ money, mo’ money, mo’ money down the federal fiscal sinkhole

By Michelle Malkin  •  February 10, 2011 09:50 AM

As a companion to my column yesterday on the Democrats’ $53 billion high-speed rail boondoggle and the systemic sabotage of financial oversight in the Obama administration, I offer you two more depressing items:

First, via GOP Sen. Tom Coburn: $800 million missing at HHS and nearly $2 billion in limbo:

# The nonpartisan analysis of an audit conducted by Ernst & Young on the balance sheets of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) for FY2010, was included in HHS’s FY 2010 Agency Financial Report, dated November 15, 2010. The audit revealed concerning conclusions, among the many findings were the following:

* HHS Is Not In Compliance With Federal Financial Management Law. According to the HHS Inspector General’s review of Ernst & Young’s financial audit of HHS, “HHS’s financial management systems are not compliant with the Federal Financial Management Improvement Act of 1996.”
* Nearly $2 Billion Taxpayer Dollars Are Stuck in Limbo. “As of September 30, 2010, the audit identified approximately 102,500 transactions totaling an approximate $1.8 billion that were more than 2 year s old without activity.”
* Nearly $800 Million Dollars “Could Not Be Explained” Differing Between HHS’ Records and Treasury Department Records. “Based on our review and discussions with management, we noted differences of $794 million that could not be explained.”

Second: Who the hell is overseeing $7 billion in broadband stimulus funds? Via Multichannel News:

The Government Accountability Office has ongoing concerns about oversight of the government’s oversight of its Broadband Technology Opportunities Program stimulus grant/loan program, a concern long shared by some legislators and lots of cable operators. The Commerce Department, which is overseeing much of that program, also shares that concern, but says it has a plan if Congress will fund it.

That is according to the prepared testimony of Mark Goldstein, director of physical infrastructure issues for GAO, for a House Communications & Internet Subcommittee hearing Thursday, and a top Commerce Department official. Goldstein is a familiar face at communications-related hearings.

Commerce’s National Telecommunications & Information Administration and the Ag Department’s Rural Utilities Service have awarded over $7 billion in grants and loans for broadband deployment and adoption as part of the American Recovery and , and must now try to make sure the money goes where it should and to whom it should.
Goldstein says risks to the program’s success remain, including monitoring 553 projects that are “diverse in scale, scope, and technology” and funding that oversight since the recovery act funds ran out Sept. 30.

But even with NTIA and RUS’ contingency plans, which Goldstein said have been developed by both on the advice of GAO, his office “remains concerned about the oversight of the broadband programs. In particular, GAO believes the agencies, and especially NTIA, need to do more to ensure their oversight plans reflect current fiscal realities.”

For his part, NTIA witness Todd Zinser, Inspector General of the Commerce Department, called the broadband stimulus program “the largest and most complex” grant program NTIA has ever overseen, and agreed there were concerns at Commerce about the ability to oversee the program.

While the grants have been awarded, most of the money has yet to be handed out. According to his prepared testimony, he will tell the legislators that the potential for waste, fraud and abuse will increase over the next few years as grant recipients spend the money, and tie his concerns to the issue of funding. “The uncertainty regarding NTIA oversight funding for FY2011 and beyond raises significant concerns for the Department about the adequacy of future BTOP oversight,” he says.

More here on yesterday’s hearing.

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Categories: Enviro-nitwits, fiscal stimulus, Politics