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  • Agriculture Department Paid $2 Million for a Single Intern

    A report from the Agriculture Department’s Inspector General has revealed some stunning examples of financial waste in the Department’s nascent technology security efforts, which have mismanaged about $63 million in taxpayer funding.

    Among the IG’s findings: the USDA spent more than $2 million on an internship program that only hired one full-time intern, $3 million on technology hardware that was never used, and $235,000 on a project that was later canceled due to redundancy.

    The office of USDA’s chief information officer, which was the subject of the report, “had not established internal control procedures, such as monitoring and oversight, for project management, and did not adequately plan its projects or how it would utilize resources,” the IG noted in explaining the underlying causes of financial mismanagement.

    “With proper coordination within OCIO and improved communication between project managers, these unnecessary costs could have been avoided,” the IG explained. But because USDA has so far failed to address those underlying issues, “the Department is still at significant risk” for further financial losses.

    Some highlights from the report:

    • “OCIO [Office of the CIO] funded an intern program for a total of $2 million which, while funded as a security enhancement project, only resulted in one intern being hired full-time for ASOC [the Agriculture Security Operations Center]… This project is intended to develop and sustain a highly skilled IT security and computer technology workforce.  Expenditures for FY 2010 and 2011 included over $686,000 for development and implementation of a networking website and approximately $192,500 in housing costs for two summers.  While the intern program may be a beneficial step in the long-run, it did little to further the more pressing objective of improving USDA’s IT security.”
    • “In FYs 2010 and 2011, OCIO spent at least $1.8 million to acquire four tools for the security sensor array project—which are not currently used—and subsequently spent additional annual maintenance costs of approximately $1.2 million.  In addition, OCIO determined that one of these tools, costing approximately $425,000, could not handle the amount of data that USDA’s network generates.  OCIO has maintained this tool at a cost of approximately $81,000 annually but has not been able to utilize it.”
    • “In FY 2010, OCIO spent $235,000 to research possible solutions for a project intended to prevent data leakage outside of USDA networks. The project was subsequently cancelled because its goals were redundant with another ongoing project, the security sensor array.”
    Posted in Featured, Scribe [slideshow_deploy]

    11 Responses to Agriculture Department Paid $2 Million for a Single Intern

    1. Bobbie says:

      Where are the tax payers obligated to pay irrational costs authorized by government and it's entities? where is it? when is someone going to put their foot down?? it's outrageously disgusting this government uses our money to protect only their own! SPECIAL INTERESTS!! This guy is a favortist. "We all have to sacrifice except my favorites I am stealing from the rest of you for!!!!!" The President of the United States???? Money isn't an option when you can legally thieve it without recourse. He's expanding government dependency by all his unconstitutional acts for those he deems incapable of dignity forcing more dependency because of his unconstitutional costs! ALL WITHIN HIS UNDISCIPLINED CONTROL!

    2. James Shott says:

      The Department of Agriculture should not be abolished. The federal government has a legitimate interest in agriculture.

      However, that interest could be funded with less than a million dollars a year, and staffed by three of four people.

    3. Betsy Pritt says:

      Taxpayers are dwindling and floundering for a meager living and the Congress gives this fake department, USDA, a $145 Billion budget to throw away and buy votes probably. I Remember the Pigford Settlement as soon as Obama was elected, mostly to non-existant farmers. In Jan 2012, he "saved" $150 million of that by closing 259 offices, labs and other facilities. It affected Washington and operations in 46 states! How many jobs did that take away? How many cases of e-coli did it not detect? Nancy Pelosi has accused the GOP of killing citizens with e-coli…in some of her deluded rants….now I know it was the Obama administration. Some may have died in the recent outbreaks of poison foods, meats, vegetables, and if the "loss of job stress" can cause death, as they accuse Mitt Romney of, millions could die. I'm just being outrageous to show how outrageous the Democrats are. They are achieving their goal of bankrupt America and socialize it's citizens though…so far.

    4. @lwinger6 says:

      Seriously? We are all on budgets and cutting back . Why can't all these agencies just take a straight 20% cut in budget. They'd figure out how to eliminate this kind of waste in a hurry.

    5. Lloyd Scallan says:

      You still don't understand that the AD, like any other government agency, is just another extention of Obama agenda. The more of our tax dollars are wasted, the faster the economy collapses. Wake-up people, this is not a seperate government department making there own decisions. It's all designed by Obama to bring about a totally government controled government, i.e. socialism.

    6. Eric says:

      The report says that the $2m paid for some unknown number of interns, only one of which was hired as a full-time government employee. The criticism is not that there weren't enough interns, but that the program did not meet its goal of turning the interns into employees that could work on USDA's security problems.

      I am not defending this expenditure — I'm sure it was a waste of money. But the headline misleads readers into thinking that USDA managed to only find one intern for that sum.

      • kline27 says:

        Not so. Quote: “the USDA spent more than $2 million on an internship program that only hired one full-time intern” and…“OCIO [Office of the CIO] funded an intern program for a total of $2 million which, while funded as a security enhancement project, only resulted in one intern being hired full-time for ASOC”
        The article cites "program", not "some unknown number of interns". It isn't clear how many were hired. I'm a retired government employee and know interns must be hired to enter a program. However, my experience was that in 90 percent or better of cases, the expense is wasted. For many reasons most interns do not end up being full time emplyees and I saw numerous cases where ones that did were not capable or not willing to do the work for which they were trained. The intern program of all branches of government should be scrapped.

    7. Ken Marx says:

      This is what happens when no one pays any attention to actual needs. Like other government agencies, Agriculture gets an automatic annual increase in funding, whether it's needed or not. You could easily multiply this waste by the number of agencies in the government and come up with some real money.

      Here's an idea. The system needs to be changed to require all government entities to submit a budget request based on what they really think they will need with justification as to why it will be needed. We need to get away from the "use it, or lose it" model currently found throughout government.

      • BobEd says:

        Ken, what you are saying is what should happen through-out the government. Structure your budget from scratch each and EVERY year. But, with Harry who needs to budget?

    8. Eric says:

      The report says that the $2m paid for some unknown number of interns, only one of which was hired as a full-time government employee. The criticism is not that there weren't enough interns, but that the program did not meet its goal of turning the interns into employees that could work on USDA's security problems.

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