Politicians have been quick to criticize the federal stimulus package, calling it a waste of tax dollars. They point out that they haven’t noticed much of a difference in unemployment rates across the Peach State. Counties are still reporting high percentages, despite millions of dollars being pumped into job programs.
Now, the government of Georgia knows why stimulus funding has had little noticeable impact. It has a lot to do with the men and women the state puts in charge of dispensing the funds. They are now the target of a probe by the Georgia Bureau of Investigation.
Investigators are acting on the findings of an audit of the Department of Human Services. When checking the numbers and following the trail of spending, auditors found that those responsible for ensuring the success of the low-income jobs stimulus program are either guilty of abuse and fraud or of excessive ineptness.
In one case of abuse cited in the report, the department paid $400,000 for computers that it did not need. The computers were never even taken out of the boxes they were packed in when purchased. The GBI also is looking for “ghost employees” who received funds from the account.
This may not seem like a big deal to taxpayers, though it should. They are, after all, the ones picking up the tab. It also should be a big deal to those who would have benefited from the stimulus package had the Department of Human Services done its job.
The federal government must come up with a better way of getting assistance to the people for which it is intended. Americans witnessed the same kind of problems when Washington poured billions of dollars of aid into New Orleans following the devastation of Hurricane Katrina in 2005. The money and materials were there but were not getting to those in need. They were being pocketed or hijacked by crooks.
Oddly enough, when aid meant for hungry people in Somalia was being intercepted by thieves, the nation sent in the military. That course of action would never fly here, but that doesn’t mean the government is helpless. Washington has the resources to make sure help arrives at its proper destination. All it has to do is use them.
— The Brunswick News