March 31, 2006

porkbustersnewsm.jpgPORKBUSTERS UPDATE: Declan McCullagh reports that technology pork is on the rise:

Buried deep in the initial version of a vital federal spending bill last year were some unlikely items slated for government money: a Waterfree Urinal Conservation Initiative, a Virtual Reality Spray Paint Simulator System and a community ski association in Telluride, Colo.

Not all the programs included in earlier drafts of the legislation, which was supposed to pay for Department of Defense operations and the war in Iraq, were included in the final version that President Bush signed Dec. 30. But such earmarks for favored recipients–known colloquially as pork–have become easier than ever for politicians to secure because of the rapid growth in homeland security and military spending, especially if they can find some plausible technological veneer.

Exact figures are difficult to obtain, mostly because spending bills tend to be intentionally obfuscated and specifics are usually absent from legislative text. Government watchdogs, however, say earmarks ostensibly related to technology are clearly on the rise.

“A lot of those projects are really directed at one company rather than a larger role of improving technology,” said Tom Schatz, president of Citizens Against Government Waste.

A database compiled for CNET News.com by CAGW, a taxpayer watchdog group, also indicated a rise in technology pork projects from fiscal 2003 to 2005.

Read the whole thing. He thinks that things may be improving as the result of porkbusting efforts. I hope he’s right. This is clearly evidence that we need more transparency in the process.