Saturday, February 2, 2013

tunnel vision

The Washington Post reports that one of the leading regional managers of the National Weather Service has been fired, terminating a 50-year career with the service, and suggests that the real cause was the official's criticism of the budget for his organization. The article also gives the official explanation:
The stated reason for his firing dates to June 2012, when the agency was embroiled in a controversy over a widespread practice used by financial managers at Washington headquarters to deal with persistent deficits. Agency leaders siphoned money allocated for equipment, technology upgrades and other programs to fund salaries and day-to-day operations without permission from Congress. The practice, called “reprogramming,” has since stopped.
 I don't know the inside story, but I think the Post is exaggerating its influence. Bureaucrats always complain about inadequate budgets, and members of Congress often welcome those complaints as ammunition in their own struggles to protect their clients when budgets are being cut. [After all, why do the defense committee members seek out forecasts of doom and defeat from the Pentagon if the budget sequester cuts occur?]
What members of Congress don't tolerate, however, are actions contrary to legislative directives on spending money. Reprogramming -- shifting funds from one approved purpose and account to another -- is strictly limited, sometimes to the point of requiring committee approval in advance. If an agency routinely ignores the congressional rules on reprogramming, there will be severe consequences.  That might be the real explanation in this case.

No comments:

Post a Comment