From the June 2007 Idaho Observer:

"CDC Off Center" first of several Senate oversight reports detailing agency fraud and waste

Below are the highlights of the 115-page review issued by The United States Senate Subcommittee on Federal Financial Management, Government Information and International Security, Minority Office, Under the Direction of Senator Tom Coburn, Ranking Minority Member, June 2007. The admissions are shocking—and this is reportedly the first in a series of oversight reports on federal agency fraud and waste.

"CDC Off Center," a 115-page oversight report authored by the Minority Office of the Federal Financial Management Subcommittee, under the direction of ranking member Senator Tom Coburn, examines how CDC has tilted off center and makes recommendations about how it might get back on track.

The American people expect CDC to spend its $10 billion budget this year treating and preventing diseases and dealing with public safety threats, including the threat of bioterrorism. While CDC will meet some of those expectations, if history is any guide, it will also waste millions of dollars.

Some examples in the report of CDC’s spending:

• $1.7 million—including terrorism funds - on a Hollywood liaison program, which happens to be run by a former employee (pg. 87);

• $45 million for conferences, including those featuring prostitutes, protests, and beach parties (pgs. 48 - 60);

• $30,000 employee saunas in a new $200,000 fitness center that also includes mood-enhancing lightshows and $3,500 worth of zero-gravity chairs (pg. 15);

• $5 billion spent over seven years on HIV/AIDS prevention funding, and yet the U.S. still sees 40,000 new cases each year, with no decrease in infection rates for over a decade (pgs. 23-37); Syphilis prevention funds used to feature a porn star’s presentation (pg. 44);

HIV/AIDS prevention funds spent on a transgender beauty pageant (pg. 45);

• $250,000 spent so two former employees could help build staff morale, (pgs. 100 - 101);

• $5.1 million on "audio visual integration" in the new Thomas R. Harkin communications and visitor center, including a giant 70-foot-wide by 25-foot-tall video wall of plasma screen TVs showcasing agency vignettes (pg. 8);

110 CDC employees traveled to two international AIDS conferences, when buying retroviral drugs with the trip funds could have prevented mother-to-child AIDS transmission for more than 115,000 infants (pgs. 50 & 52);

New Hawaii office opening soon, announcement made by Senator from Hawaii who oversees agency’s funding (pg. 18);

• $335 million on ads to fight childhood obesity. Kids saw the ads, whether or not the ads affected their behavior is another question (pgs. 69 - 71);

• $128,000 in CDC bioterrorism funds spent by L.A. County on trinkets such as letter openers, whistles, magnets, mouse pads, flashlights, pens, and travel toothbrushes (pgs. 106 - 110).

The report also includes:

A detailed graph showing CDC’s yearly budget from 1995-2007, which has increased by more than 350% (pg. 7); and

A chart showing yearly CDC’s HIV/AIDS funding from 2001-2007, which has more than doubled during that time (pg. 115).

U.S federal healthcare oversight agency, it appears are being run by reckless and irresponsible administrators.

Previous reports confirmed this sorry state of affairs also at the Food an Drug Administration—which is largely under the control of the pharmaceutical industry it is mandated to oversee; at the National Institutes of Health—financial conflicts of interest and scientist’ double dipping has undermined the integrity of science and the safety of human subjects; and the Environmental Protection Agency is headed by an administrator who would conduct a pesticide experiment on African American toddlers were it not for the public outcry and the intervention of several senators.

As part of his commitment to oversight of how Washington spends taxpayer dollars, Senator Coburn plans to release a series of oversight reports on federal agencies. Senator Coburn’s hope is that more and better oversight will assist federal agencies and those in Congress with responsibility for overseeing agency budgets, with reigning in wasteful spending; demanding measurable results from programs and grantees; and with reevaluating current spending before asking politicians and taxpayers to send more scarce tax dollars.

If you can document examples of government waste, fraud or abuse, submit the information to FFM’s website tip page at

or by mail to:

Senator Tom Coburn

Subcommittee on Federal Financial Management, Government Information, and International Security

340 Dirksen Senate Office Building

Washington, D.C. 20510

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