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CDC Wasteful Spending Galore
An entertaining blast from the past: Revisiting the 2007 Coburn Report "CDC Off Center"
In 2007, Senator Tom Coburn, the one-man tour-de-force against moronic and wasteful government spending, released a brutal report on the state of affairs over at the good ole’ CDC, “CDC OFF CENTER: A review of how an agency tasked with fighting and preventing disease has spent hundreds of millions of tax dollars for failed prevention efforts, international junkets, and lavish facilities, but cannot demonstrate it is controlling disease”.
Here is Senator Coburn’s press release announcing the report, reproduced in full:
Jun 12 2007
Dr. Coburn Releases Oversight Report on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
Agency’s health mission compromised by mismanagement; lavish spending
(WASHINGTON, D.C.) – U.S. Senator Tom Coburn, M.D. (R-OK), a practicing physician, today released an oversight report on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), an agency with a $10 billion annual budget and a crucial public health mission.
“Recent events have highlighted how critical CDC’s mission is to the health of our nation. The American public, now more than ever, expects CDC to spend its funds preventing diseases and dealing with public safety threats, including the threat of bioterrorism. While CDC is meeting some of those expectations, it also wastes millions of dollars,” said Dr. Coburn, ranking member of the Subcommittee on Federal Financial Management, Government Information and International Security (FFM). ^
In a detailed oversight report — the first in a series that will examine the operations of federal agencies — a U.S. Senate Subcommittee highlights how the CDC has wasted and continues to waste hundreds of millions of tax dollars, but keeps asking taxpayers for more.
In “CDC Off Center: A review of how an agency tasked with fighting and preventing disease has spent hundreds of millions of tax dollars for failed prevention efforts, international junkets, and lavish facilities, but cannot demonstrate it is controlling disease,” the minority staff of the FFM subcommittee examines how CDC has tilted off center and makes recommendations about how it might get back on track.
Dr. Coburn noted, “Recently, it was reported that the CDC director told Congress the agency ‘needs’ an additional $1 billion in 2008 to do its job properly. The FFM oversight report shows the director where she might begin looking for those funds internally, before she asks taxpayers to open their wallets even wider.
“CDC employs many honest, hard-working people who shoulder a very important mission for our nation. Yet, like most agencies, it offers many examples of how an agency with a large budget can veer off track in prioritizing its funds.”
A sample of what is included in this new oversight report:
CDC spent $1.7 million — including funds from a terrorism account — on a Hollywood liaison program, which happens to be run by a former CDC employee (see page 87);
CDC paid to create a statue of a woman made out of vegetables, “who” was featured in its $106 million new communications and visitor center (recently named after the senator in charge of funding CDC) (see page 11);
The Thomas R. Harkin visitor center also includes a giant 70-foot-wide by 25-foot-tall video wall of plasma screen TVs to showcase vignettes about the agency. The plasma TVs are part of the building’s $5.1 million “audio visual integration” expenditures (see page 8);
CDC spent $30,000 on saunas for its new $200,000 fitness center, a center which also includes mood-enhancing lightshows and two $1,750 zero-gravity chairs (see page 15);
CDC syphilis prevention funds were spent to host a “safe-sex” event with a porn star, during a time when rates of the disease among men climbed by 68 percent (see page 44);
CDC HIV/AIDS prevention funds were spent on a transgender beauty pageant (see page 45);
CDC spent $45 million for conferences, including those featuring prostitutes, protests, and beach parties (see pages 50, 52,53, & 55);
CDC sent 110 employees to two international AIDS conferences (20 to Thailand and 90 to Barcelona), when purchasing retroviral drugs with the trip funds likely could have prevented mother-to-child AIDS transmission for more than 115,000 infants around the world (see pages 52 & 54);
CDC is opening a Hawaii office, a development announced by a senator from Hawaii who oversees its funding (see page 18);
CDC has spent $5 billion over seven years on HIV/AIDS prevention funding, and yet the United States still sees 40,000 new cases each year, with no decrease in infection rates for over a decade (see pages 23-31);
The Inspector General finds that of CDC’s $2.6 billion in HIV/AIDS grants, some have no objectives and are “abysmal,” yet are funded anyway (see pages 38-40);
CDC spent $335 million on a kid-targeted media campaign to fight obesity and found that, later, kids who saw the ads did one more activity, which may or may not have been the result of the ads (see pages 69-71);
CDC pays two former employees $250,000 to (temporarily) help build staff morale, and the agency is currently seeking a full-time replacement who will cost taxpayers over $1 million in the next decade (see pages 100-101);
A CDC HIV/AIDS prevention grantee hosted a bar night and printed magazine instructions on how to throw a good party with lots of alcohol, despite the fact that booze is a known risk-factor for spreading the deadly disease (see page 104); and
$128,000 in CDC bioterrorism funds were spent by Los Angeles County (a high-target area) on trinkets such as letter openers, whistles, magnets, mouse pads, flashlights, pens, and travel toothbrushes (see pages 106-108).
Also included in the report is a graph showing CDC’s yearly budget from 1995-2007, which has increased by more than 350 percent (see page 7) and a chart showing yearly CDC’s HIV/AIDS funding from 2001-2007, which has more than doubled during that time (see page 115).
As part of his commitment to oversight of how Washington spends taxpayer dollars, Dr. Coburn plans to release a series of oversight reports on federal agencies. Dr. Coburn’s hope is that better oversight will assist federal agencies, and those in Congress overseeing their budgets, in reigning in wasteful spending, in demanding measurable results from programs and grantees, and in reevaluating current spending before asking politicians and taxpayers to send more.
As the report notes:
“‘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.”
Newsbusters Compilation of Frivolous Expenditures of the CDC & NIH
Because this is too good not to include here:
If NIH and CDC are still having trouble coming up with ways to fund their fight against Ebola, here is a list of 15 wasteful programs totaling $15,135,574,669.00 where they could have saved:
Telling Taxpayers How to Eat ($15 billion) – Yes, that’s billion with a “b” in front. In a massive overstep of government power, Obamacare carved out $15 billion for CDC to convince Americans to make “healthy” choices through “Community Transformation Grants” (CTG). The CTG program “supports efforts to modify behavior through anti-obesity campaigns, as well as anti-smoking and pro-sin tax regulations and legislation” at the state and local levels, according to the bipartisan Citizens Against Government Waste.
Grant Money to China ($90 million) – NIH awarded more than $90 million to Chinese researchers. This included $2 million to develop a vaccine for a parasite disease common in China. The Traditional Values Coalition asked, “As our country heads to fiscal ruin, why are we giving millions in taxpayer dollars to Chinese science — which benefits China and its institutions — when they hold more than $1 trillion in American debt?”
Duplicate Agricultural Programs ($22 million) – CDC spent $22 million on their Agriculture, Forestry, and Fishing Program. The problem? This project was nearly identical to efforts already underway at the Department of Agriculture. CDC allotted $181,966 for developing a smart phone app for specialized farmers in Tennessee.
“Why Are Lesbians Fat?” ($2.87 million) – That’s one question NIH has decided to research for the last four years, spending more than $2.87 million so far on the project. The ongoing study is meant to explain why “women of minority sexual orientation are disproportionately affected by the obesity epidemic,” operating under the claim that “three-quarters” of lesbians are obese. First funded in 2011, the study is slated to continue into 2016.
Promoting HPV Vaccine for Young Girls ($544,188) – CDC provided $544,188 for a study on how to boost the number of young girls getting Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) vaccinations in Los Angeles County. Although CDC says the benefits of the vaccine outweigh the risk, it counts 772 serious adverse side effects, including 32 deaths, among the millions of doses administered to young girls between June, 2006, and December, 2008. Parents have raised moral objections as to whether young girls should receive the vaccine, which covers four sexually transmitted diseases.
Drunken Monkeys ($3.2 million) – NIH spent $3.2 million getting monkeys drunk just to see what would happen. The agency apparently has quite a fascination with excessive drinking, since it also “doled out money in recent years for research on binge-drinking mice, inebriated gamblers and pilots seeking the sensation of flying drunk,” according to The Washington Times.
Bizarre Sex Studies ($1.5 million) – Congress voted to give NIH $1.5 million to spend on four obscure sex studies: “Mood Arousal and Sexual Risk Taking,” “Study on Sexual Habits of Older Men,” “Study on San Francisco’s Asian Prostitutes/Masseuses,” and “Study on American Indian Transgender Research.” NIH still received the requested funds from Congress, despite efforts by Sen. Pat Toomey, R-Penn., in 2004 to defund the projects.
Funds for Homosexual Activists in Public Schools ($1.4 million) – CDC gave The Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network (GLSEN), the homosexual activist group, $1.4 million to create “safe spaces” in public schools starting in 2011. The funding will be distributed during a five year period, as GLSEN works in 20 targeted school districts across the country. GLSEN Executive Director Eliza Byard claimed in 2011 that safe spaces “are vital to these students’ health, success in school and life prospects."
Centers for ‘Gun Disease’ Prevention ($2.6 million) – CDC spent $2.6 million on studies that also seemed to favor greater gun control before when Congress defunded the research in 1999. Apparently Congress thought CDC had more important issues to study, like how to control actual diseases. For FY 2015, President Obama is asking Congress to grant CDC $22.2 million in new funding to study and prevent gun violence. Obama has made similar requests in previous years, though unsuccessfully.
National Institutes of ‘Gun Control’ ($5 million) – Separately from the CDC, NIH also handed out nearly $5 million for research promoting gun control as of October, 2009, according to an article in The Washington Times. NIH pursued research on “gun related violence,” despite the issue being well outside the organization’s typical domain. Grants included “$642,561 in taxpayer funds to learn how inner-city teenagers whose friends, acquaintances and peers carry firearms and drink alcohol on street corners could show up in emergency rooms with gunshot wounds.”
Cocaine Enhances Japanese Quail’s Sex Drive ($181,406) – No joke, this was a real study sponsored by NIH and slated to run through next year. Why quail? Because “quail provide a convenient and interesting alternative to standard laboratory rats and pigeons.”
Empowering Women to Choose Contraception … in Jail ($279,789) – Liberals have long battled to expand women’s access to contraceptives. So in June 2012, NIH allocated $279,789 “to improve contraceptive use for incarcerated women” as they neared the end of their jail time. The program, which ran from June 1, 2008, through on May 31, 2014, was ultimately intended to reduce unexpected pregnancies and Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs) among recently incarcerated women.
Bogus AIDS Experiments ($4.9 million) – Results of an HIV/AIDS vaccine study funded by NIH were faked by researcher at Iowa State University (ISU), calling into question $19 million in grants awarded to the same researcher over the years. “Inauthentic” samples throughout a period of four years made the vaccine reportedly appear far more effective than it actually was. Although NIH refused to pay ISU the final installment of the grant money, the university was allowed to keep more than $4.9 million after paying back the researcher’s salary – nearly three-quarters of the original grant.
Sex Workers Spreading STDs ($675,786) – Ever wonder why sex workers spread HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases (STDs)? The answer might seem obvious, but NIH is spending $675,786 to find out exactly how and why in an ongoing study. Researches are continuing the regular testing of 600 female sex workers on the U.S.-Mexico border for HIV, syphilis, gonorrhea, and Chlamydia.
Examining ‘Barriers to Correct Condom Use’ ($423,500) – It turns out “young, heterosexual adult men” weren’t using condoms as frequently as NIH would like. A study investigating the apparent problem in 2009 came with $423,500 price tag.