In the final three years of the Clinton administration, the Education Department lost nearly half a billion dollars in waste, fraud and errors, according to the department's chief inspector. One Republican lawmaker likened the agency's financial practices to those of a "Third World republic."
The department, which has a $44.5 billion budget and manages billions more in student loans, has reported that poor oversight resulted in several instances in which money was stolen or improperly spent, and others in which checks for grants were duplicated or money was never distributed.
The agency's inspector said 21 employees could write checks for up to $10,000 without supervision. An audit of department finances from May 1998 to September 2000 found that 19,000 of these checks were written, totaling $23 million.
So next time you hear about government not being able to afford a tax cut, remember this.