spending

Dr. Joyner points us to an example of what is, sadly, an all too common practice in Washington, but perhaps one which is coming with the worst timing and optics possible. As Congress battles back and forth over spending and whether or not we’ll even be able to keep the lights on in Washington, government agencies have been busy running out and spending like mad to use up all the remaining cash in their budgets so they don’t lose it for next year.

This past week, the Department of Veterans Affairs bought $562,000 worth of artwork.

In a single day, the Agriculture Department spent $144,000 on toner cartridges.

And, in a single purchase, the Coast Guard spent $178,000 on “Cubicle Furniture Rehab.”

This string of big-ticket purchases was an unmistakable sign: It was “use it or lose it” season again in Washington.

All week, while Congress fought over next year’s budget, federal workers were immersed in a separate frantic drama. They were trying to spend the rest of this year’s budget before it is too late.

The reason for their haste is a system set up by Congress that, in many cases, requires agencies to spend all their allotted funds by Sept. 30.

If they don’t, the money becomes worthless to them on Oct. 1. And — even worse — if they fail to spend the money now, Congress could dock their funding in future years. The incentive, as always, is to spend.