No ethics? Can't count? You can work for the U.S. government

News flash! Unethical behavior reported at the highest levels! Financial ineptitude runs amok! Stop the presses! Welcome to today’s diet of bad and more bad government.

Let’s begin with the main course: details of egregious ethical lapses, courtesy of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington:

• No new enforcement mechanisms for congressional ethics.
• Ted Stevens still sitting on Senate Appropriations.
• Senate Ethics Committee looking into Sen. Craig, but not Sen. Vitter.
• Millions of missing White House emails still unaccounted for.
• Rep. John Murtha’s abuse of the earmarking process remains unchecked.
• Lurita Doan remains chief of GSA despite illegal conduct.

• White House covering up its role in the firings of the U.S. Attorneys.
• No Child Left Behind funds directed to Bush fundraisers who provide inadequate reading materials for kids.
• Court decision regarding search of Jefferson’s office limits ability of DOJ to investigate other corrupt lawmakers.
• FEMA knowingly let Katrina victims live in hazardous trailers.

CREW, you may recall, is the group of highly competent and motivated researchers (and lawyers) who back up their claims. Remember CREW’s Beyond Delay report that lists the 22 most corrupt members of Congress?

Now a little dessert: While you’re mulling over the ethical lapses of the people who are supposed to work on our behalf, add this to your coffee — the inability of the federal government to audit itself properly and produce a credible financial statement.

The Government Accounting Office released today its Financial Report of the United States Government for 2007. According to The Washington Post:

The federal budget deficit would have been 69 percent higher than the $162.8 billion reported two months ago if the government had used the same accounting methods as private companies, the Bush administration reported Monday.

That means the deficit for the fiscal year ending Sept. 30 would have been $275.5 billion. Love that fancy accounting …

The government 10 years ago adopted the accrual method of accounting so that the government’s system of accounting would be comparable and compatible with those of private companies. In a letter to the president and Congress accompanying the report, Comptroller of the United States and GAO head David M. Walker said:

The federal government did not maintain effective internal control over financial reporting, including safeguarding assets, and compliance with significant laws and regulations.. … Until the problems outlined in our audit report are adequately addressed, they will continue to have adverse implications for the federal government and American taxpayers.

An e-mail sent by the GAO this morning highlighting Comptroller Walker’s speech today at the National Press Club outlined these reasons for the flawed financial statement:

Despite improvements in financial management since the U.S. government began preparing consolidated financial statements more than a decade ago, three major impediments prevent the U.S. government from obtaining a clean opinion: (1) serious financial management problems at the Department of Defense, (2) the federal government’s inability to adequately account for and reconcile intragovernmental activity and balances between federal agencies, and (3) the federal government’s ineffective process for preparing the consolidated financial statements.

In his speech, Mr. Walker said:

If the federal government was a private corporation and the same report came out this morning, our stock would be dropping and there would be talk about whether the company’s management and directors needed a major shake-up.

Could that “major shake-up” begin in November 2008? I suppose we ought to dump our current crop of presidential and congressional candidates and elect monks and forensic accountants.

4 replies »

  1. So you’re telling me that after years of being a professional musician I can work for the gov’t? I can count, but when I get to four, I always start over…