Lest you think wasteful or redundant government spending is a uniquely 20th century phenomenon, this example from 1919 is as bad as anything happening today.
An amusing example of needless expense continued after attention has been repeatedly called to it exists in connection with the Coast and Geodetic Survey. The building which this service occupies lies directly across the street from the House Office Building. A steam supply main from the Capitol power plant passes directly through the basement of the building of the Survey to the House Office Building. The Survey, however, is not permitted to use steam from this pipe, but is required to operate its own separate boilers, purchase coal, hire firemen and other help for operating an independent heating plant in the very basement through which an ample supply of Government steam passes to another building.
It got worse.
So, also, a local electric plant is working in the basement of the House Office Building, across the street, but the Coast Survey is obliged to purchase current from a commercial company and to employ a force of dynamo tenders throughout a twenty-four hour day. In this case, where the law requires a service to operate a light plant and a heating plant, where both light and heat are available from a central power plant maintained by the Government, the chief of the service estimates that $4,000 per annum is wasted. The change of a few words in the law would correct it. This has been asked, but has not been done.
A more recent attempt to cut down on redundant government spending is through the Duplication Scoring Act, a congressional bill which I wrote about for GovTrack Insider in September. But just like that aforementioned 1919 line — “The change of a few words in the law would correct it. This has been asked, but has not been done.” — the Duplication Scoring Act has similarly received neither a House nor Senate committe vote.
Our Unguarded Treasury: Haphazard Financial System Which Has Necessitated the New Budget System for Federal Government
Published: Sunday, November 2, 1919