by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
According to a report by the Office of Personnel Management and reported in Ed O’Keefe’s “Federal Eye” column in the Washington Post, our government has been sending checks to dead people. “In the last five years,” O’Keefe writes, “the Office of Personnel Management has made more than $601 million in payments to dead federal retirees, according to the agency’s inspector general. Total annual payouts range between $100 million and $150 million.”
This isn’t new. Inspector General Patrick McFarland had urged OPM in 2005 and again in 2008 to more closely monitor such payments. It appears his advice has gone unheeded.
“Improper payments to dead retirees are up 70 percent in the last five years,” says the OPM report. In one outrageous case, the son of a deceased annuitant kept receiving federal benefits for 37 years after his father’s death. OPM didn’t learn about the improper payments until after the son died. Of course, the agency never recovered any of the money. Could this be why the government has no qualms about spending other people’s money?
Sen. Tom Coburn, Oklahoma Republican, conducted an investigation and reported last October on his findings. Coburn discovered that “the federal government had paid nearly $1 billion to at least 250,000 dead people since 2000. That same month, a watchdog reported that the Obama administration’s economic stimulus program had made 89,000 payments of $250 each to dead or incarcerated people,” writes O’Keefe.
I wonder how many of the dead and incarcerated got to vote — and for whom?