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Waste of the Day: Throwback Thursday: Contractor Devours Agriculture Department Funds

In 1986 a contractor fleeced the Agriculture Department of $3 million (2023 dollars) in funds intended for needy children’s lunches.

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In 1986, the Department of Agriculture gave $1.1 million — over $3 million in 2023 dollars — to the contractor running its Food and Nutrition Service for low-income hungry children, who spent it on covering their losses instead of feeding needy kids.

For this wasteful spending, Sen. William Proxmire, a Democrat from Wisconsin, gave the Food and Nutrition Service a Golden Fleece Award in 1983. He gave awards to wasteful and nonsensical spending, eventually handing out 168 Golden Fleece Awards between 1975 and 1988.

Waste of the Day: Throwback Thursday: Contractor Devours Agriculture Department Funds
Waste of the Day 1.04.24 by Open the Books

Auditors in 1981 found the private company that had the contract to feed hungry children wasn’t operating properly. “The multitude of problems,” as Proxmire put it, included that “the private firm’s accounting system was a joke, and federal money was being spent without a paper trail to show who got it and why.”

This issue was also spotted in 1979. The auditors recommended that the Department of Agriculture “immediately help the company improve its management, or failing that, terminate the contract,” Proxmire described.

But the Food and Nutrition Service acted as typical bureaucrats in delaying and passing the buck, saying to watch for improvements in next year’s audit.

In 1981, the auditors found that $71,000 in federal dollars had been used to pay the company’s bills, and by 1985 that had grown to $1.1 million. Later that year, the company declared bankruptcy.


“Now the taxpayers will be standing in line in bankruptcy court to see if any of their money can be recovered,” Proxmire said.

The #WasteOfTheDay is brought to you by the forensic auditors at

This article was originally published by RealClearInvestigations and made available via RealClearWire.

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Adam Andrzejewski (say: Angie-eff-ski) is the CEO/founder of Before dedicating his life to public service, Adam co-founded HomePages Directories, a $20 million publishing company (1997-2007). His works have been featured on the BBC, Good Morning America, ABC World News Tonight, C-SPAN, The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, USA Today, FOX News, CNN, National Public Radio (NPR), Forbes, Newsweek, and many other national media.

Today, is the largest private repository of U.S. public-sector spending. Mission: post "every dime, online, in real time." In 2022, captured nearly all public expenditures in the country, including nearly all disclosed federal government spending; 50 of 50 state checkbooks; and 25 million public employee salary and pension records from 50,000 public bodies across America.

The group's aggressive transparency and forensic auditing of government spending has led to the assembly of grand juries, indictments, and successful prosecutions; congressional briefings, hearings, and subpoenas; Government Accountability Office (GAO) audits; Congressional Research Service (CRS) reports; federal legislation; and much more.

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Posted on YouTube, Andrzejewski's presentation, The Depth of the Swamp, at the Hillsdale College National Leadership Seminar 2020 in Naples, Florida received 3.8 million views.

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In 2022, Andrzejewski did 473 live television and radio interviews across broadcast, major cable platforms, and radio shows. Andrzejewski is the author of The Waste of the Day column at Real Clear Policy. The column is syndicated by Sinclair Broadcast Group, owners of nearly 200 ABC, NBC, CBS, and FOX affiliates across USA.

Andrzejewski lives in Hinsdale, Illinois with his wife Kerry and three daughters. He is a lector at St. Isaac Jogues Catholic Church and has finished the Chicago Marathon eight times (PR 3:58.49 in 2022).

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