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FY-Eye: New Report Cites 128 Executive Branch Failures

By Ed O'Keefe

Amid reports that administration officials have been given talking points to help sum up President Bush's eight years of service, a new report by the independent nonpartisan Center for Public Integrity lists what it considers 128 examples of failure during the president's tenure.

The report cites familiar and predictable complaints (the administration "displayed what’s at best a lukewarm interest in independent oversight," for example), but it also highlights less-familiar examples:

Homeland Security: Things "have not gone smoothly" for the Agricultural Quarantine Inspection program, transferred from the Department of Agriculture to DHS after its creation. "A 2006 Government Accountability Office (GAO) survey found that the majority of the program’s specialists believed the transfer had compromised the inspection mission; three-fifths said they were conducting fewer inspections and interceptions of prohibited agriculture items since joining the DHS. Another concern was that the program is being overshadowed by counterterrorism activities." The office has staffed up and added resources in the past year, according to the report.

Equal Employment Opportunity Commission: "A backlog in cases and increasing delays" have plagued the agency. "EEOC had 2,158 employees at the end of 2007, down 22 percent from 2002. The number of investigators dropped from 857 in 2000 to 565 in 2007. The average time for an investigation to be completed went from 160 days in 2003 to 206 days in 2008. The backlog of cases increased 38 percent between 2005 and 2007."

Department of Education: The report calls out the department's Reading First program, a $1 billion project to help students improve reading skills by the end of third grade. The department's inspector general concluded "Department officials were playing favorites, giving grants for certain programs over others." The department's final report on the program found "'no statistically significant difference in reading comprehension,' between students who participated in Reading First and those who didn’t," it did conclude that Reading First 'had a significant impact on students’ decoding, phonics, and fluency skills.'"

Department of Health and Human Service: The Indian Health Service cannot account for at least 5,000 pieces of property either lost or stolen. Computers, all-terrain vehicles and digital cameras are among the missing items. "A computer containing a database of uranium miners’ names, along with their Social Security numbers and medical histories, was carried out of an IHS hospital in New Mexico," according to this section of the report.

Thirteen CPI reporters and editors received roughly 250 examples of "failure" and chose to highlight 128 that received bipartisan criticism and most impacted ordinary people.

"We're not done yet, we expect more people to send information to us and we'll add them," said Bill Buzenberg, CPI's executive director. The group invites readers to suggest other successes and failures on their Web site.

Amid all the reported failures, the group does believe the Bush administration succeeded in some ways and plans to compile and report the achievements soon, Buzenberg said.

"They did some things right. It's also really true that it didn't all start eight years ago, many of these problems were already there."

You can download the PDF version, but it's more powerful online, because the entire project is so well-designed and includes fantastic, easy-to-navigate search options.

By Ed O'Keefe  | December 10, 2008; 1:10 PM ET
Categories:  Agencies and Departments, FY-Eye, Oversight  
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Did Frances Townsend's sorry Hurricane Katrina Lessons Learned report make the list? What's missing from her robust investigation?

Memorial Medical Center 10 deaths
LifeCare Hospitals (rented a floor of Memorial) 24 deaths
Total MMC deaths 34

Memorial owner-Tenet Health
LifeCare owner-The Carlyle Group

None of the above made Fran's analysis. However. Jeb Bush landed a slot on the Tenet Board a year after his brother's omission.

Posted by: jepysdad | December 10, 2008 5:11 PM | Report abuse

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