Wasteful spending isn’t intelligent

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Thanks to Missouri Republican Sen. Christopher S. Bond for finally addressing publicly the massive waste within the intelligence community (“Intel agencies ‘wasted’ billions,” Page 1 Wednesday).

A fundamental problem is that government employees are lousy stewards of taxpayer money. They accept costs and standards that they would never accept in their personal lives. They have little financial stake in the outcome of their programs.

Years ago, my government agency started a program to “make us more like a business.” A foolish and unworkable idea, it didn’t include the one change that might have made a real difference - firing or demoting managers who ran programs that were flawed in concept and disastrous in implementation.

Losing money in government is easy to hide, and managers rarely lose a job because of incompetence. Much of the waste and wrong direction is “nudged” by contractors who are not just hired to help implement programs, but have great influence on their development. The revolving door is swinging as fast as always, and long-standing relationships don’t necessarily disappear because one’s employer changes.

Intelligence agencies for too long have had insufficient oversight of their spending. There could be significant budget cuts without harming essential missions, but that would require unpopular decisions. Just one example - if you took out all the positions that are required not by the mission but by political correctness, substantive positions could be added without a bloating of overall work-force numbers. It is long past time for people to stand back, look at the massive growth of the intelligence community and ask, “What are we getting for all this?”

The basic mission is critical; there are untold numbers of highly intelligent, dedicated employees - but the layers of waste and incompetence are legion.

ANNE ALLEN

Washington

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