Another Gov’t Spending Scandal: NOAA’s $300k “Love Boat”

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Republican Senator Scott Brown is demanding an investigation into abuses at NOAA, the National Oeanic and Atmospheric Administration. 

From a letter to Obama from Senator Brown’s office:

At the heart of the NOAA scandals is the corruption of the agency’s Asset Forfeiture Fund. As chronicledby the Commerce Department’s Inspector General, senior NOAA staff failed to maintain adequatecontrols over the millions of dollars that passed through this fund.

For example, NOAA employees manipulated and evaded purchasing controls so they could obtain a $300,000 luxury fishing boat that was used to conduct weekend getaways, alcohol·fueled parties, and other joy rides. Senior NOAA fisheries leadership authorized the purchase of this party boat despite the written warnings of a NOAA procurement attorney. Incredibly, NOAA employees chose to mislead the Inspector General when questioned about the use of the boat by family and friends.

But NOAA employees were not content with spending fishermen’s fine money on a party boat. They also used those fines to take trips to exotic locations like Kuala Lumpur and Norway. These conferences were attended by the government contractors who set the fines that financed the NOAA employees’ travel. Some of these trips included the very judges who approved those fines. These contractors have refused to answer questions about whether their own travel was paid for out of the fines they set.

The letter continues to document millions of dollars of expenditures that were unnaccounted for, and the ensuing attempt by NOAA administrators to cover it up.

Is this the kind of accountability and transparency America voted for in 2008? Let’s hope it doesn’t vote for more of these abuses in 2012.