CNN has reported that the US Department of Justice has initiated an investigation into a huge governmental program designed to assist severely disabled Americans find work. According to the report, AbilityOne and SourceAmerica are being investigated for potential infractions including financial fraud, inappropriate steering of contracts, and obstruction of justice.
The AbilityOne program is responsible for spending approximately $3 billion of taxpayer funds annually, which is supposed to be funneled to companies with at least 75% of their workforce being severely disabled. This program was initiated during Franklin Roosevelt’s administration in 1938. Typical of government programs, once started they continue into perpetuity. This program’s continuance is questionable given the many newer laws that protect handicap workers, including the infamous Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).
According to CNN, up to half the companies receiving contracts from AbilityOne and SourceAmerica under this program do not meet the requirements of employing severely disabled in appropriate numbers. In other words, this program is yet another form of crony capitalism that permeates our government. In this case, approximately 10 large companies are receiving the lion’s share of this program’s funds. This degradation of a program initiated with the best intent is not surprising given that the person who runs AbilityOne is a presidential appointee, in other words a political hack.
Very large organizations are difficult to control under the best of circumstances. Lines of communications are tenuous and complex. Holding people accountable for their performance is nearly impossible.
The outrageously large US federal government has added burdens that ensure its inefficiency and ineffectiveness. This includes political appointments of unskilled managers, as well as a bureaucracy that answers to no one. Its employment rules also make it nearly impossible to terminate ineffective employees.
The greatest albatross on the government’s ability to reform itself is its nearly limitless budget that is only possible because of deficit spending. Only by removing the government’s ability to borrow funds for other than catastrophic needs could Americans hope to limit governmental corruption. Limited budgets force competition between different agencies for scarce funds, help weed out inefficient agencies, and would also help create transparency as groups vie for funds.