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I believe Congress should be committed to conducting meaningful oversight when it comes to examining how Washington spends your hard-earned tax dollars. It is imperative our government run as efficiently and effectively as possible in order to meet the many challenges facing our nation. To that end, I continue to work toward eliminating the fiscal waste and abuse found throughout the government bureaucracy, and ask members of Congress and citizens across the country will join me in this effort to demand transparency and accountability in the federal budget.

  • Reports: As part of this oversight initiative, I am working to release a series of oversight reports on federal agencies. I hope agencies and other congressional committees alike will welcome this oversight and work with us to help identify even more areas of waste, fraud, and abuse, as well as new ways to better prioritize our nation’s limited financial resources. To view these oversight reports, please visit the “Investigative Reports” page:

  • Government Waste: For examples of outrageous government waste, visit the “Your Tax Dollars at Work” and "Washington Waste of the Day" pages.

    If you have discovered government waste, and want to submit a tip (anonymously, if you wish) for an area in need of oversight, please visit the "Submit a Tip About Government Waste" page:

  • Federal Funding Accountability and Transparency:  The website allows you to “google” all government grants, contracts and loans, so you can track how your money is being spent by Washington:

The information listed below is my latest oversight reports and letters.  I am absolutely committed to aggressive and responsible congressional oversight of all federal spending. I will identify problems and provide information to the Congress and the public. However, it is up to the American people to demand that their elected officials respond vigorously to the findings.

Tom Coburn, M.D.


November 18, 2008

Senator Coburn requests copy of report critical of U.S. broadcasts in Arabic

Report suppressed since July

Alhurra studios.

Senator Tom Coburn (OK-R) sent a letter to the Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG) requesting un-redacted copies of studies said to be critical of taxpayer funded broadcasts in Arabic by Alhurra. The BBG is an independent agency that manages all U.S. international broadcasting including Alhurra, Voice of America, and Radio Free Asia.

The BBG has come under increased scrutiny due to a number of tax funded broadcasts providing unchallenged platforms to terrorists and other individuals hostile to U.S. policies (click here for examples and transcripts). The agency commissioned studies of its Arabic broadcasting in response, but it has so far refused to make the results public even though they were completed in July.

Related Resources:



October 9, 2008

U.S. public diplomacy programs continue use of Muslim Brotherhood affiliates

State Department responds to concerns against funding Islamists

On July 30, 2008, Senators Tom Coburn and Jon Kyl sent a letter to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice asking her to stop funding affiliates of the Muslim Brotherhood and other Islamists tasked to wage a "Civilization-Jihadist Process" to "destroy Western Civilization from within and 'sabotaging' its miserable house by their hands" (pg 21 of Muslim Brotherhood Memorandum: “On the General Strategic Goal for the Group in North America").

In a August 20th response letter, the State Department provided no indication that it would cease funding Islamists groups to carry out U.S. public diplomacy programs. These programs, managed by State Department's Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, are meant to invest in relationships with Muslim clerics in Muslim countries so they are more likely to preach positively about America and Americans. Grantees and subgrantees currently used by the Bureau of Cultural and Educational Affairs to carry out these programs include the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA) and a leader of the Association of Muslim Social Scientists of North America (AMSS). Both organizations are identified by the Muslim Brotherhood as its U.S. affiliates, and both organizations are tasked by the Muslim Brotherhood with destroying Western Civilization in North America.

According to testimony from Zeyno Baran, senior fellow at the Hudson Institute and witness for a Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee hearing on violent Islamist extremism held in July, ISNA and AMSS are not appropriate organizations to carry out these programs.

ISNA has been named as an unindicted co-conspirator in the ongoing Holy Land Foundation trial. Both of these groups have direct and indirect ties to the Muslim Brotherhood, which is a political Islamist network that considers Islam a “civilization alternative” to America (and to liberal democracy in general), and is thus fundamentally anti-American. The Muslim Brotherhood’s mission statement is "Allah is our objective. The Prophet is our leader. The Qur'an is our law. Jihad is our way. Dying in the way of Allah is our highest hope”. Hamas is a wing of the Muslim Brotherhood.

It is not possible for groups founded to further the goals and messages of the Muslim Brotherhood to convey instead the kind of messages the State Department would wish to be conveyed. Ultimately, it is likely that these groups would take advantage of such programs to further expand their own international networks. In short, the money of American taxpayers will not benefit American interests in the hands of groups affiliated with the Muslim Brotherhood.

Congress provides State Department’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs with over $500 million annually to carry out its programs.





Related Resources:

Oversight Actions:


July 31, 2008

U.S. Spending $470,000+ to Send 116 Federal Employees to Mexico City AIDS Conference

Funds Could Have Been Used to Eliminate a U.S. Waiting List for AIDS Drugs or to Prevent Over 59,000 Newborns from Becoming Infected with HIV

Mexico City AIDS Conference Logo
At least 116 U.S. federal employees will join 22,000 people attending this week’s International AIDS Conference in Mexico City.
Taxpayers will contribute almost a half-a-million dollars to the event, an amount that could have been spent to provide life-saving medication to every American on a waiting list for AIDS drugs or to prevent over 50,000 newborns from becoming infected with HIV.
Click the following link for a copy of the Senate oversight report on the 2008 International AIDS Conference.
In addition to some scientific and scholarly workshops, the event will feature a “Sex Workers Mini Film Festival,” and a session led by a pro-prostitution group that brags of being “proud” of its work and proud to bring in “lots of tourist dollars” for Thailand. There will also be a workshop on the “Sexy Life” after HIV infection and one entitled “Good Catholics Use Condoms: How to Answer the Tough Questions Surrounding HIV/AIDS Prevention and Religion,” which will be moderated by a woman whose D.C.-based group favors legalized abortion, gay marriage, and contraception  — all positions opposed by the Catholic Church.
Among the attendees will be at least 116 federal employees from the:
·                National Institutes for Health (NIH),
·                Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC),
·                Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA),
·                Food and Drug Administration (FDA),
·                U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID),
·                Office of the U.S. Global AIDS Coordinator (OGAC), ),
·                Department of Defense (DOD),
·                Census Bureau, and
·                Peace Corps.
All told, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) will spend $360,500 on the following:
·                 $165,000 for hotel and per diem costs;
·                 $100,000 for registration;
·                 $86,000 for airfare from DC, Atlanta, and overseas locations; and
·                 $9,500 for a U.S. government-wide booth
The XVII International AIDS Conference occurring this week in Mexico City, Mexico, is organized by the International AIDS Society and is expected to cost $25 million and attract 22,000 conference-goers.  It will cost U.S. taxpayers at least $473,095 to send the planned delegation of over 100 government employees to this single conference, according to figures collected and published in a report by the Senate Subcommittee on Federal Financial Management, Government Information, Federal Services, and International Security minority staff.
Senator Tom Coburn, a practicing physician who has cared for patients living with HIV/AIDS, and ranking member of the Senate Federal Financial Management subcommittee issued the report and stated, “This is a simple question of priorities when it comes to addressing HIV/AIDS—talk or treatment?  Conference or care?  While the waiting list for federal employees to attend the AIDS conference may now exceed the waiting list for patients seeking AIDS drugs, most taxpayers would probably agree that providing life saving treatment to 35 of their fellow Americans is a better expenditure of funds than paying to send 114 government employees on a trip to Mexico.  No one will die from not being able to attend a conference, but the same is not true for those who are living with HIV/AIDS and can not access treatment.”
Dr. Coburn encourages anyone who has examples of government waste to submit the information to his Web site tip line.
Or by mail to his subcommittee office:

Senator Tom Coburn, M.D.
Subcommittee on Federal Financial Management, Government Information, and International Security
340 Dirksen Senate Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20510

Tipsters may remain anonymous.

Major Findings:


Impact on Taxpayers:


These Findings Demand a Response:


Related Resources:

Further Readings:

July 30, 2008

Senators Coburn and Kyl call for the State Department to stop funding Islamists

Senators Tom Coburn (OK-R) and Jon Kyl (AZ-R) sent a letter to Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice, asking her to stop funding entities in the Muslim Brotherhood's U.S. network including the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA) and the Association of Muslim Social Scientists (AMSS). According to a Muslim Brotherhood memorandum recently submitted as evidence in a terror financing trial, the Muslim Brotherhood considers ISNA and AMSS part of its U.S. network to carry out a “civilization jihadist process” that includes “eliminating and destroying the Western Civilization” in the U.S.

In December 2007, a grant of nearly $500,000 was awarded by the U.S. State Department to the University of Delaware which employs a leader of the AMSS, Muqtedar Khan, to manage the grant.   The grant is meant to foster dialogue between the U.S. and clerics in Muslim countries.  In 2006 and 2007, the National Peace Foundation received State Department grants of $466,000 and $499,999 to conduct similar programs in partnership with ISNA.

Related Resources:


Further Readings:


June 4, 2008

Senator Coburn calls for U.N. head of Food and Agriculture Organization to resign

Attention-starved dictators are invited guests at U.S.-funded conference on world hunger

Mugabe "feeding" program

Senator Tom Coburn sent letters to the Secretary of State, Secretary of Agriculture, and the Administrator of USAID requesting all taxpayer support of the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) be terminated until its director general, Jacques Diouf, resigns. Diouf made a mockery of the 2008 World Food Summit by inviting Zimbabwe president Robert Mugabe and Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to participate. Both men are responsible for the misery and starvation of millions.


Key Facts:

  • Taxpayers fund the FAO over $100 million annually from member dues and additional, voluntary contributions.
  • The 2008 World Food Summit in Rome is being attended by dozens of U.S. government employees from the Department of State, Department of Agriculture and USAID.

Related Resources:



April 10, 2008

Senator Coburn seeks transparency with World Bank and U.N. programs in Iran

Senator Tom Coburn sent a letter to Secretary of the U.S. Treasury, Henry Paulson, requesting information regarding licenses and other documents the Treasury Department has for World Bank and United Nations programs in Iran. Iran is a state sponsor of terrorism and is under U.S. and international sanctions. Reports suggest World Bank and U.N. programs in Iran violate U.S. law, but due to both institutions refusing basic transparency requests, it is difficult to verify the reports or know whether U.S. funds are being spent as intended.

Related Resources:



January 30, 2008

Senators urge Secretary Rice to boycott racist U.N. conference

Terrorist supporters at the U.N. World Conference on Racism.
In a letter to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, 27 senators encouraged the State Department to officially boycott the racist and anti-Semetic U.N. World Conference on Racism referred to as "Durban."  The executive committee for the conference is chaired by Libya, and the vice-chair is Iran, even though Iran's leaders have frequently called for the destruction of Israel while denying the Holocaust took place.

Durban's main purpose is to legitimize anti-Semetic propaganda such as the claim that Palestinians are victims of Israel's racism.  According to the letter, the conference undermines the prospects for a peaceful solution to the Arab-Israeli conflict.

Related Resources:



December 14, 2007

Senators concerned with U.N. Secretary-General undermining U.N. ethics reform

U.S. Senators Tom Coburn (OK) and Jim DeMint (SC) sent a letter to U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon expressing their concern regarding Ban’s plan to fracture the U.N. ethics and whistleblower process. Rather than order all U.N. programs to comply with U.N. ethics reforms, Ban has permitted the programs to create ad hoc ethics offices that report to the heads of the programs. The program managers may themselves be the subject of ethics investigations–hardly a recipe for an independent and credible operation.

Related Resources:


November 14, 2007

Senators applaud Secretary Rice’s oversight and reform agenda at U.N.

Today, U.S. Senators Tom Coburn (OK), Jon Kyl (AZ), Sam Brownback (KS), Norm Coleman (MN), David Vitter, (LA), Jim DeMint (SC), and John Ensign (WY) sent a letter to Secretary Condoleezza Rice, U.S. Secretary of State, praising her leadership in seeking greater transparency, accountability, and oversight at the United Nations. The Secretary has established the U.N. Transparency and Accountability Initiative which seeks to shine light on the over $5 billion contribution made annually to the U.N. by the U.S. taxpayer with little or no information on how most of it is spent. Secretary Rice has also spearheaded the U.S. investigation into the U.N. Funds and Programs that uncovered a widely used practice at the U.N. where U.S. contributions are used to prop up dictators and regimes of terror through cash deposits and illicit military-grade technology transfers from U.N. programs such as the $5 billion U.N. Development Program.

Related Resources:


September 12, 2007

Dr. Coburn Requests Oversight Report on Transportation Earmarks

Report criticizes Congress’ wasteful spending.

THUD - IG says earmarks not a good use of funds

Dr. Coburn recently received a requested report from the Department of Transportation Office of Inspector General that contains the following astonishing findings. Read a summary of the report, or read the full report by clicking here, and click here to read more about Dr. Coburn's amendments to the FY 2008 Transportation/HUD Appropriations bill.


Earmarks in DOT have increased in number by 1,150 percent in 10 years (1996 – 2005), with the value of earmarks in the same timeframe jumping 314 percent.

Ninety-nine percent of earmarks (7,724 out of 7,760) were not subject to the transportation agencies’ review and selection processes or bypassed the states’ normal planning and programming processes.

Earmarks may not be the most effective or efficient use of funds. The IG report identifies five ways in which earmarks impact programs in the Federal Highway Administration, the Federal Transit Administration, and the Federal Aviation Administration, as follows (see pages 11 – 14 of the full report):

  • Earmarks can reduce funding for the states’ core transportation programs.
  • Earmarks do not always coincide with DOT strategic research goals.
  • Many low priority, earmarked projects are being funded over higher priority, non-earmarked projects.
  • Earmarks provide funds for projects that would otherwise be ineligible.
  • Earmarks can disrupt the agency’s ability to fund programs as designated when authorized funding amounts are exceeded by “overearmarking.”

Click here to see a one-page table entitled "strategic earmarks?" which identifies a series of problematic earmarks mentioned in the report.  To access the lists of specific earmarks identified in the table, browse by the type of earmark below.

Related Resources:


September 7, 2007

Dr. Coburn requests an Independent Review of Congressional Earmarks Within the Department of Transportation

Findings reveal over $8 billion in Congressional pet projects leaves infrastructure across country at risk

THUD - IG says earmarks not a good use of funds

Dr. Coburn requested an independent review of congressional earmarks within the Department of Transportation from the department’s Inspector General in August 2006.  Click the following link to read a summary.

Read the full report, “Review of Congressional Earmarks within Department of Transportation Programs” which was completed on September 7, 2007.

Click the following link to read about Dr. Coburn's amendments to the FY 2008 Transportation/HUD Appropriations bill.

July 3, 2007

Dr. Coburn continues to press for needed accountability for Homeland Security preparedness grant programs.

Dr. Coburn continues to press for needed accountability for Homeland Security preparedness grant programs.

S. 4, the Improving America’s Security Act of 2007, authorizes over $3 billion a year for the next three years (and such sums as determined necessary each year thereafter) in homeland security disaster preparedness and interoperability grants.

S.4 contains comprehensive auditing provisions authored by Sen. Coburn during the Senate committee mark-up process in response to an onslaught of scandals, inspector general and Governmental Accountability Office (GAO) findings and press reports about financial improprieties using preparedness and disaster grant funds, including funding going to yoga classes, puppet shows, credit card fraud, football tickets, divorce lawyers, sex change operations, and more. Dr. Coburn’s audit requirements in S.4 extend to preparedness grant programs, not public assistance administered under the Stafford Act. Dr. Coburn is working to keep the audit language in the bill as it moves through the conference process. Click on the following link to read why "Accountability in DHS Preparedness Grants Needed Now."

In February 2007, Dr. Coburn pushed the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs for greater transparency, better financial controls and minimum performance standards for homeland security programs. Click here for details on the votes and the Coburn amendments at the 2/15/07 Homeland Security Governmental Affairs Senate Committee Business Meeting considering the "9/11 Commission" bill.

June 28, 2007

House and Senate members request investigation into bias and censorship at tax-funded PBS

Senator Tom Coburn, together with Senators Jon Kyl and James Inhofe and Representatives Trent Franks, Peter Hoekstra, and Peter King sent a letter to Kenneth Konz, Inspector General for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB). Members from both houses of Congress are concerned about alleged ideological bias, conflict of interest, and censorship that prevented a documentary which received a taxpayer-funded $675,000 grant from airing on the Public Broadcasting Service (PBS).

The film, "Islam vs. Islamists: Voices from the Muslim Center,” was meant to be part of the PBS 11-part series, America at a Crossroads, which examined the challenges confronting the post-9/11 world. There are initial reports that indicate the censorship of this film is related to conflicts of interest and in some cases sympathy to Islamist groups or apologists from among PBS officials and series consultants.

Key Facts:
  • The film "Islam vs. Islamists" was censored by PBS despite being funded by taxpayers with a $675,000 grant.
  • The Corporation for Public Broadcasting receives $400 million from taxpayers each year which it uses to fund over 1,100 public television and radio stations.

Related Resources:



June 18, 2007

Government Reports Huge Surplus of Unneeded Federal Property

Report Highlights Need for Legislative Change

A report (attached below) was released on Friday, June 15, by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) demonstrating for the first time how much unneeded property is being held by the government.  When all properties eligible for disposal under the Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) program are excluded, the government is still holding more than 21,000 properties it doesn't need, all valued at $18 billion.

The report came in response to an amendment offered by Sen. Coburn to the Federal and District of Columbia Government Real Property Act of 2006.  The amendment, section 408 of the bill, required that OMB report to Congress on 1) the number of excess or surplus properties in the federal government, and 2) a list of 100 properties most eligible for sale. 

A hearing of the Federal Financial Management Subcommittee on May 24 demonstrated that the process for disposing of unneeded property is hampered by burdensome rules and regulations.  Many problems have arisen from the complicated requirements established by Congress, demonstrating that a legislative fix in this area is essential.  In response to this problem, Sen. Coburn, along with Sen. Tom Carper, plan on introducing legislation to help eliminate this large and costly backlog.

Related Resources:

Further Readings:

June 12, 2007

CDC Off Center - Dr. Coburn issues 100+ page oversight report on public health agency

The First in a Series of Oversight Reports on Federal Agencies

Centers for Disease Control - Off Center?

Click the following link for a copy of the report, "CDC Off Center"

“CDC Off Center,” a 115-page oversight report authored by the Minority Office of the Federal Financial Management Subcommittee, under the direction of ranking member Senator Tom Coburn, examines how CDC has tilted off center and makes recommendations about how it might get back on track.

The American people expect CDC to spend its $10 billion budget this year treating and preventing diseases and dealing with public safety threats, including the threat of bioterrorism. While CDC will meet some of those expectations, if history is any guide, it will also waste millions of dollars.

As part of his commitment to oversight of how Washington spends taxpayer dollars, Senator Coburn plans to release a series of oversight reports on federal agencies. Senator Coburn’s hope is that more and better oversight will assist federal agencies and those in Congress with responsibility for overseeing agency budgets, with reigning in wasteful spending; demanding measurable results from programs and grantees; and with reevaluating current spending before asking politicians and taxpayers to send more scarce tax dollars.

“CDC Off Center” is not an effort to discredit the good work that the CDC and those who work for it have carried out and the good work that will continue in the future. The report will hopefully be seen for what it is: an effort to shine some light on prevention efforts and funding decisions that may be holding the agency back from fulfilling its central mission of fighting and controlling disease.

Some examples in the report of CDC’s spending:

  • $1.7 million — including terrorism funds — on a Hollywood liaison program, which happens to be run by a former employee (pg. 87);
  • $45 million for conferences, including those featuring prostitutes, protests, and beach parties (pgs. 48 - 60);
  • $30,000 employee saunas in a new $200,000 fitness center that also includes mood-enhancing lightshows and $3,500 worth of zero-gravity chairs (pg. 15);
  • $5 billion spent over seven years on HIV/AIDS prevention funding, and yet the U.S. still sees 40,000 new cases each year, with no decrease in infection rates for over a decade (pgs. 23-37);
  • Syphilis prevention funds used to feature a porn star’s presentation (pg. 44);
  • HIV/AIDS prevention funds spent on a transgender beauty pageant (pg. 45);
  • $250,000 spent so two former employees could help build staff morale, (pgs. 100 - 101);
  • $5.1 million on “audio visual integration” in the new Thomas R. Harkin communications and visitor center, including a giant 70-foot-wide by 25-foot-tall video wall of rear-projection and plasma television screens showcasing agency vignettes (pg. 8);
  • 110 CDC employees traveled to two international AIDS conferences, when buying retroviral drugs with the trip funds could have prevented mother-to-child AIDS transmission for more than 115,000 infants (pgs. 50 & 52);
  • New Hawaii office opening soon, announcement made by Senator from Hawaii who oversees agency’s funding (pg. 18);
  • $335 million on ads to fight childhood obesity… kids saw the ads, whether or not the ads affected their behavior is another question (pgs. 69 - 71);
  • $128,000 in CDC bioterrorism funds spent by L.A. County on trinkets such as letter openers, whistles, magnets, mouse pads, flashlights, pens, and travel toothbrushes (pgs. 106 - 110).

The report also includes:

  • A detailed graph showing CDC’s yearly budget from 1995-2007, which has increased by more than 350% (pg. 7); and
  • A chart showing yearly CDC’s HIV/AIDS funding from 2001-2007, which has more than doubled during that time (pg. 115).

Do you know of examples of government waste, fraud or abuse? Submit the information to FFM's website tip page, or by mail to:

Senator Tom Coburn
Subcommittee on Federal Financial Management, Government Information, and International Security
340 Dirksen Senate Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20510

Related Resources:

Further Readings:


Other Resources:


June 12, 2007

Dr. Coburn Urges Under Secretary General Barcena to Promote Real Transparency at the U.N.

Dr. Coburn sent a letter today to the United Nations Under Secretary General for Management, Alicia Barcena, that calls for legitimate accountability and transparency of the United Nations’ $2 billion plus renovation, and throughout the entire U.N. system.

In response to comments made by Dr. Coburn at a recent lecture at the American Enterprise Institute, Under Secretary General Barcena wrote a letter that appeared in the June 9th, 2007 edition of the Washington Times. Today's letter from Dr. Coburn to the Under Secretary General presents the U.N. a better understanding of why taxpayers in free and open societies demand accountability for their over $20 billion investment in the United Nations.

Related Resources:



May 30, 2007

Dr. Coburn writes HHS about HIV/AIDS mismanagement in Puerto Rico

Dr. Coburn sent a letter to HHS Secretary Leavitt regarding the ongoing mismanagement of federal AIDS dollars in Puerto Rico that threatens the delivery of care and treatment to hundreds of patients living with HIV/AIDS.

Click here to read more about the issue in USA Today.

April 10, 2007

Oyster - the Pork of the Sea? Dr. Coburn writes NOAA on Oyster rescue project regarding possible misuse of taxpayer dollars.

Oyster Rescue? $10 million in federal funds = profits of $30 a barrel

Senator Coburn sent a letter to the Administrator of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) regarding the alleged misuse of federal funds by the Oyster Recovery Partnership in Maryland as recently reported in the Baltimore Sun.

For more information on the Oyster rescue project, and a copy of Dr. Coburn's letter, please see below.


Related Resources:

Examples of Government Waste:



February 9, 2007

Dr. Coburn's letter to President: U.S. International Broadcasting "harming American interests rather than helping"

Today Senator Coburn sent a letter to the President regarding Voice of America (VOA) Persian Service, U.S. broadcasting to Iran.  Referencing the English transcript of VOA coverage of the President's State of the Union address, Dr. Coburn illustrates how VOA failed to provide Iranians a clear and effective presentation of U.S. foreign policy but provided another platform for its critics.  In a July 2006 hearing on U.S. Iran policy chaired by Dr. Coburn, a leading Iranian student leader who had recently escaped imprisonment in Iran testified that U.S. broadcasts do more to undermine U.S. interests than help it.  As Dr. Coburn investigated the content of U.S. international broadcasting, he found evidence that broadcasts to Iran give a significant amount of airtime to guests and content that undermine U.S. policy, often even supporting the propaganda of the Islamic Republic of Iran.

In the letter, Dr. Coburn references similar problems in other broadcasting services and urges the President to pursue management and accountability reforms at the Broadcasting Board of Governors.




Related Resources:



January 31, 2007

Dr. Coburn calls on Treasury to respond to questions on World Bank oversight

In August 2006, Dr. Coburn asked the Department of Treasury to take accountability for reports of medical malpractice in the World Bank's malaria program. Click here for more details and a copy of the August 3 letter.

Six months later, Dr. Coburn again asked the Department of Treasury to respond. Click here for a copy of Dr. Coburn's January 31, 2007 letter to Treasury.

Update: On Thursday, February 1, 2007, Treasury sent a belated response to Dr. Coburn's request. Click here to read the response.

Related Oversight Action: January 30, 2007 - Dr. Coburn Condemns World Bank's Continued Lack of Transparency in Malaria Programs

January 30, 2007

Dr. Coburn Condemns World Bank's Continued Lack of Transparency in Malaria Programs

Senator Coburn sent a letter (click here for a copy) to Mr. Wolfowitz, President of the World Bank, expressing his disappointment in the World Bank's continued lack of transparency regarding the multilateral aid organization's past and present malaria programs, which were publicly critiqued in a peer-reviewed scientific journal, the Lancet, in April 2006. The Bank has so far declined to brief bipartisan, bicameral Congressional staff on the program since the publication of the Lancet article. Congress is expected to consider the renewal of U.S. contributions to the Bank's IDA-14 Replenishment in the 110th Congress. The U.S. remains the largest contributor to the IDA.  For FY2007, President Bush has requested $950 million to fulfill the second payment toward the U.S. three-year, $2.85 billion commitment to the fourteenth replenishment of IDA, representing  around 59% of the President's FY2007 budget request for U.S. contributions to the multilateral development banks.

On June 9, 2006, the House passed the FY2007 Foreign Operations appropriations bill, which appropriated the full $950 million request.  However, the full Senate did not take up the Foreign Operations appropriations bill prior to the adjournment of the 109th Congress on December 9, 2006. FY2007 IDA appropriations (and other Foreign Operations programs) are currently operating under the terms of a continuing appropriations resolution which provides funding at the FY2006 level or the House-passed FY2007 level, whichever is less. The continuing appropriations resolution expires on February 15, 2007.

Related Oversight Action: January 31, 2007 - Dr. Coburn calls on Treasury to respond to questions on World Bank oversight

January 3, 2007

Coburn Letter on CARE Act Funded Temporary AIDS Housing

Requests restraint in overhead costs of housing services

Dr. Coburn sent a letter to the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) on Ryan White CARE Act temporary AIDS housing funds, and reiterates that the CARE Act's primary purpose should be provision of core medical services to those with HIV/AIDS. Dr. Coburn's letter requests restraint in overhead costs of housing services, and suggests 75% of the FY07 funds ($286 million) allotted for Housing and Urban Development’s Housing Opportunities for Persons with AIDS (HOPWA) program should be spent on actual housing assistance (in recent years, up to 43% of HOPWA funds went to excessive overhead costs). To read the letter in full, click here.

To read more about Dr. Coburn's work on HIV/AIDS related issues, click here.

December 6, 2006

Coburn, Carper Ask Census Bureau For Answers

Senators Question Why the 2010 Census Will Not Be Held Online

Senators Tom Coburn and Tom Carper sent a letter to the Director of the U.S. Census Bureau, Louis Kincannon, requesting information on why the bureau decided this past spring to eliminate its plans to put the 2010 Census online.  The senators were concerned that long-standing plans to offer the survey online were suddenly reversed without any public notice or explanation.

In June, the Subcommittee held a hearing on the same issue, read here for further background.

Related Resources:


November 3, 2006

Chairman Coburn Urges Incoming Secretary General to Restore Credibility to the U.N.

Chairman Tom Coburn sent a letter to the Secretary General Elect of the United Nations, Ban Ki-Moon, urging him to take on the low-hanging fruit of the U.N. reform "tree" that is desperately needed in order to restore the credibility of the U.N.

Related Resources:


October 19, 2006

Subcommittee Oversight Efforts Identify $1.1 TRILLION in Waste or Questionable Spending

Hearings and other oversight efforts during 109th Congress expose Uncle Sam's disconnect

Your Tax Dollars at Work

An estimated $1.1 TRILLION expended on programs the FFM Subcommittee has found to be wasteful, frivolous, or of questionable – or immeasurable – value which include:

  • $200.9 BILLION in WASTE
  •  $33 BILLION in FRAUD
  • $518 BILLION in QUESTIONABLE SPENDING that deserves more attention
  •  $345 BILLION Tax Gap

$64 billion in FY 2006 for programs and projects that were hidden from sunshine and kept from a public debate.
o Of which, $567 million for museum earmarks, handed out since 2001 (total of 863 earmarks). These earmarks were given outside of the Congressionally created competitive grant process.

$82.8 million wasted on bureaucracy and overhead (only 8% of USAID’s FY2004 $90 million malaria prevention budget actually went to spraying, bed nets and medicine in Africa)

Advanced Technology Program:
$216.5 million since 2005 wasted on corporate welfare to pay for research the private sector is already initiating and funding.

Program Assessment Rating Tool (PART):
$18 billion wasted on failing, redundant, or ineffective programs. If Congress were to enact the President’s Management Agenda which has rated and identified programs that are not performing, it would save $18 billion in the first year alone.

Defense Travel System:
$474 million wasted. The system was initiated in 1998 and it was supposed to be fully operational by 2002. Despite being four years overdue and $200 million over budget, DTS is behind schedule, is deployed in barely half of the 11,000 DoD travel sites, cannot be relied upon to provide Department of Defense travelers with the lowest available airfare, and is plagued with contracting problems.

Securities and Exchange Commission new construction cost overruns:
$47 million wasted. Three new SEC buildings cost estimates tripled from $22 million to $69 million as construction commenced, which is $47 million more than the Congress agreed to fund.

Meetings and travel for government employees:
Over $1.9 billion spent on meetings and travel related to meetings since 2001 by the federal government. We could save $176 million/year just by reverting back to FY2001 levels.

Improper Payments:
$45 billion wasted by the government in 2005 in wrong payments (could be overpayments, payments to ineligible parties, etc.). Though required by law to monitor and report improper payments, not all government agencies report, so it is impossible to know what the true loss of money is here.
$38 billion wasted in 2006 at the very least in wrong payments government wide.
• Of this, the Earned Income Tax Credit improperly made $11.4 billion in payments (which is 25% of their payments).
• At least $377 million in overpayments by the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to ineligible parties in 2003, which means that 56,000 eligible families did not receive housing vouchers that year.
• $12.1 billion, or 5.2 percent overpayment rate, in Medicare.
• $27.3 million lost because Centers for Medicaid paid benefits to deceased beneficiaries.

Leasing buildings instead of owning them:
Unknown billions of dollars wasted in hidden costs because the government enters into “operating leases” instead of “lease to buy” or new construction. Agencies rely on these types of leases because it looks cheaper on an agency’s annual appropriation and the nation’s annual budget. In the long term, though, it costs taxpayers a lot more money.
• The Federal Real Property Council reports that in fiscal year 2005, space leased by the federal government cost the taxpayers almost $4 billion in rent.

Tax gap
$345 billion foregone in uncollected taxes, by modest estimates. Tax reporting is based on the honor system so there is no way to get a true picture. This figure does not even include illegal activities, so the estimate is likely much greater.

Unused Federal Property:
$25 billion wasted per year in unused federal property. (At $21 per square foot occupancy cost, 1.186 billion square feet of excess space)
• Federal buildings worth tens of billions of dollars sit empty around the country. The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) has set a goal of reducing the inventory of all real property by 5%, or $15 billion, by 2009. Based on this goal, it appears that OMB considers this amount-- at the very least—to be excess.
• DoD spends $3-4Billion on maintenance of unused buildings each year.

Information Technology:
The federal government will spend $64 billion in FY2007 on IT projects, of which $12 billion is at risk of being wasted. Of this figure, the Office of Management and Budget has termed $9.9 billion worth of projects as “not well planned.”

Medicaid Fraud:
$33 billion lost to fraud.
• If we apply the CBO’s current baseline estimates for the federal share of Medicaid for FY2005, and we assume what is probably a low estimate of error – 10% – that totals $33 billion taxpayers’ dollars diverted from care for those who need it. In 2005, New York was defrauded by possibly as much as $18 billion (a fraud rate of 42% for that year in New York alone).
• Medicaid is not yet compliant with the Improper Payments Act. (They do not report their payment errors.)

2010 Census:
$4.9 billion wasted – the inexplicable increase in “cost” to the taxpayer to fund the 2010 Census which is estimated to cost over $11 billion. This estimate is an increase of 80% from the 2000 budget, and 350% over the 1990 census budget.
• The Census Bureau is threatening that costs may increase by an additional $1 billion if the Congress does not restore $53 million to its FY2007 budget, cut out by the House of Representatives.
• GAO is considering putting it on its “High Risk” list due to its inability to contain costs
• The Census Bureau has invested $600 million to purchase 500,000 wireless handheld devices for census-takers to use in going door-to-door. Although these are intended to achieve cost savings, GAO is concerned that the devices may not work properly, if at all.

Small Business Administration:
• Taxpayers unnecessarily exposed to $70 billion in risk because the SBA’s loan portfolio is guaranteed by the Federal Government. If the loans default the government picks up the tab. In effect, taxpayers are providing loan guarantees to businesses that would otherwise fail in the competitive private market.

Unspent Funds:
• At least $420 billion sitting in government carryover accounts, money that could offset the government budget, pay down the national debt or be returned to taxpayers.
• Despite money going unspent, Congress and the administration continue to request budget increases for agencies and federal programs.
• The food stamp program carried over $2 billion at the end of last year and will carry over $3 billion this year and next. Could its 2007 budget be offset by using its unspent money?

United Nations:
• U.S. taxpayers provide over $5.3 billion to the UN each year no guarantee that the money is not being wasted due to rampant fraud, corruption and mismanagement at the UN This is an investment of questionable value and there are no clear benefits or measures of its effectiveness.
• Internal auditors recently found that a third of the UN peacekeeping contracts they reviewed was lost to waste, fraud, and abuse—an amount equal to the entire US donation to these contracts.
• Financial aid “recipient nations” rejected even the most modest reforms to the UN earlier this year.
• On top of the yearly dues, taxpayers will provide an additional $374 million for the renovation of UN headquarters in New York City. Still in the planning stages, this project has been plagued by allegations of waste, fraud and abuse and there is no assurance of transparency or accountability.

Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) program:
$4 billion/year for a program with no transparency or measures of community development. Grants are issued to communities based on obsolete eligibility criteria that awards communities with higher per capita income instead of poorer communities the program was intended to assist with development.
o Temple, TX has an average $20,000 per capita income and receives $15 per capita in CDBG funds.
o Oak Park, IL averages $36,000 per capita income and receives $39 per capita from the program.
• During the past 2.5 years, the Inspector General has audited a small number of grantees (only 35 audits for 1,180 grantees) and yet found more than $100 million in waste, fraud and abuse of CDBG funds. If the Inspector General had the resources to comprehensively audit the entire program, the total waste and abuse of funds could be many times greater.



Senator Tom Coburn

Subcommittee on Federal Financial Management, Government Information, and International Security

340 Dirksen Senate Office Building     Washington, DC 20510

Phone: 202-224-2254     Fax: 202-228-3796

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