Heritage Foundation: Caribbean Trip 2013's Most Wasteful US Spending

Saturday, 04 Jan 2014 04:21 PM

By Todd Beamon

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A week-long trip by federal government employees to a luxury resort in the Caribbean in November tops the Heritage Foundation's list of the top 10 examples of most wasteful federal government spending last year.

Employees of the U.S. Coral Reef Task Force stayed at the Buccaneer Hotel in St. Croix, in the U.S. Virgin Islands.

The beachfront resort was featured in the ABC television show "The Bachelor."

The events during the week included free public lectures and a business meeting for employees, according to news reports.

The task force was established in 1988 to protect and manage the coral reef territories of the U.S. It is overseen by U.S. Commerce Department, which manages the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and the Interior Department.

The value of the trip, according to Heritage? Priceless.

"The bill was divided among a number of agencies, making a final tally difficult to come by," the foundation said.

"Perhaps no obscenely wasteful spending took place over the week — that much is unclear," Heritage said. "But also unclear is why this program exists in the first place. With the task force spread across 11 different federal agencies, it is difficult to understand how much it costs taxpayers and whether it is successful or not."

The foundation's list comes amid a mounting national debt that has already hit $17 trillion.

"If government employees can enjoy a stay in a luxury hotel made famous on "The Bachelor," then surely Congress could find somewhere to make spending cuts," Heritage said.

Some of the items on Heritage's list come from the annual "Wastebook" of federal spending put out by Republican Sen. Tom Coburn of Oklahoma.

Meanwhile, another example cited by Heritage included $5 million spent on "exquisite" crystal glassware by the State Department a week before the 16-day partial government shutdown in October that cost taxpayers $1.4 billion.

Heritage figured the glassware was probably used for drinking up the $400,000 in alcohol the State Department bought the year before.

Other instances, according to Heritage, included $1 million for a granite sculpture at the American Embassy in London that looks like stacked rocks; another million for a heated bus stop in Arlington, Va., that has not kept commuters warm or dry; and $124,995 to create a 3-D printer that develops pizza that NASA granted to a company based in India.

There is an honorable mention, however: the $130,000 paid to the Super Bowl champion Baltimore Ravens by the White House to promote Obamacare.

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