Federal bureaucrats repeatedly tapped a biomedical research fund to spend on salaries, unrelated expenses, and even moving office furniture, according to the Department of Health and Human Services inspector general.
While the amount of money wasted is unknown, authorities said it certainly runs into the millions of dollars.
The money, taken before the current pandemic, was taken from the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA), which researches and develops vaccines, drugs, and other therapies to combat public health issues.
The investigation was reportedly spawned by a whistleblower who alleged that the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response within HHS had been improperly using funds from 2010-2019 under both the Obama and Trump administrations.
The inspector general’s investigation substantiated many of the allegations from the whistleblower, the Post reported. It was reportedly concluded that the agency violated the Purpose Statute, which is meant to ensure that funds allocated by Congress to federal agencies are only used for particular purposes.
We’re used to bureaucrats living it up on the taxpayer dime, but some of this waste might be criminal.
The investigation also found that BARDA spent nearly a million dollars between 2013 and 2017 on salaries for employees that did not work there, the Post reported. Another reported impropriety was that BARDA had spent money on having furniture removed from an office that did not belong to them.
“I am deeply concerned about [the] apparent misuse of millions of dollars in funding meant for public health emergencies like the one our country is currently facing with the COVID-19 pandemic,” special counsel Henry Kerner wrote. “Equally concerning is how widespread and well-known this practice appeared to be.”
When there are $5 trillion dollars going out the door, it’s impossible to keep track of most of it. And yet, we’ve now entered a new age where the federal budget is going to balloon into the stratosphere. In 2020, the CBO estimates the government spent $6.6 trillion, which is $2 trillion more than we spent in 2019. The budget for 2021 promises to be even larger.
One thing we can be sure of: Washington isn’t going to be spending any less money than it did the previous year. And when the crash comes, it’s frightening to imagine where we might bottom out.