It turns out September, not April, may be federal taxpayers’ worst nightmare.
The end of the government’s fiscal year usually brings an orgy of spending as agencies look at their budgets, see extra cash lying around, and figure they’d better use it all up or risk it getting cut in the future.
The “use it or lose it” mentality explains why the Defense Department spent $9,241 on a Wexford leather chair, $2.3 million on crab and another $2.3 million on lobster tails in September, according to a study released Thursday by OpenTheBooks.
Taxpayers shelled out $97 billion on contracts in September, including a staggering $53 billion in the final week — seven days that cost more than the entire month of August.
“In the final month of the fiscal year, federal agencies scramble to spend what’s left in their annual budget; agencies worry spending less than their budget allows might prompt Congress to appropriate less money in the next fiscal year,” said the report from the government-spending watchdog group. “To avoid this, federal agencies choose to embark on an annual shopping spree rather than admit they can operate on less.”
As might be expected, the Defense Department was the biggest spender, and the most money went to big-ticket necessities such as fixed-wing aircraft.
But there were also the lobster tail and crab, $163,636 spent on paint brushes, and $7.6 million on workout equipment — including ski equipment for “adults and junior” earmarked to Misawa Air Base in Japan.
The lobster tail purchases in September were a bit more than 10 percent of what the federal government spent on the delicacy the entire year, suggesting only a slightly elevated rate of spending.
But more than...