Federal agencies billed taxpayers millions for lobster tail, alcohol, standing desks, golf carts, and more frivolous expenditures before budgets ran out at the end of the fiscal year.
A new analysis released by OpenTheBooks.com found 66 agencies spent $97 billion last September, the final month of fiscal year 2018. The end of the year taxpayer-funded spending spree included contracts with Coors, millions on iPhones, furniture, and CrossFit equipment.
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"In the final month of the fiscal year, federal agencies scramble to spend what's left in their annual budget," OpenTheBooks.com said. "Agencies worry spending less than their budget allows might prompt Congress to appropriate less money in the next fiscal year. To avoid this, federal agencies choose to embark on an annual shopping spree rather than admit they can operate on less."
Resulting government expenditures included $4.6 million on lobster tail and crab; $673,471 on golf carts; $1.7 million on pianos, tubas, and trombones; $9.8 million on workout and recreation equipment; and $7.7 million iPhones and iPads.
A Wexford Leather club chair cost taxpayers $9,241. The government spent $293,245 on rib eye, top sirloin, and flank steak.
Before budgets ran out national security agencies, including the Department of Defense, Department of State, and Department of Homeland Security spent $412,008 on paint and artist's brushes.
The federal government spent $2.1 million on games, toys, and wheeled goods, $490.6 million on furniture, and $62.1 million on household furnishings. Bureaucrats spent $1.1 million on standing desks, as well as $2.7 million on ergonomic chairs, $643,833 on sofas, and $40,379 on clocks.
The government's PR budget also did not suffer, as agencies spent $462 million on public relations and marketing in the final month of the fiscal year.
Agencies spent $402 million on food, including the Pentagon, which spent $2.3 million on snow crab, Alaskan king crab, and crab legs, and $2.3 million on lobster tail. The Pentagon and Department of State spent $308,994 on alcohol, including a $76,173 contract with Coors Brewing Company.
The total $97 billion spent in September 2018 amounts to a 16 percent increase from the previous year. Similarly, last year's end of the budget spending binge included millions spent on cars, scooters, fidget spinners, and shuffleboards.
More than half of the spending came during the final week before budgets ran out.
"In the final seven days of the fiscal year, agencies ramped up their spending to a total $53 billion—that's more than they spent in the entire month of August," OpenTheBooks.com said.
"As the national debt surpasses $22 trillion, it's time to end Washington's use-it-or-lose-it spending culture," the watchdog group concluded. "Ending this wasteful phenomenon would go a long way toward generating big savings and winning the public's trust."