While Congress and the White House try to work out a plan to fund the federal government for the rest of this fiscal year, spending by Uncle Sam continues on a whole host of items, from highly advanced technical research at NASA and the Pentagon, to more mundane items, like subscriptions to magazines and journals, and janitorial services.
Here's a few things that the federal government spent your tax dollars on in the past few days:
1. Very smart people doing very smart people things. NASA has been very effective at sprinkling its research facilities around the country, which has spawned strong, bipartisan support for its various activities. One item being worked on at the John Glenn Research Center in Ohio is how to reduce the noise created by jet engines on airplanes. For that, you need to use something known as "Particle Image Velocimetry," which allows researchers to see how jet exhaust mixes with surrounding air. NASA Glenn needed to upgrade the PIV system there, so they spent $181,059 to do that.
2. DARPA once more looking beyond the horizon. The work of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency is almost always interesting when you look at how the Pentagon is spending research dollars. In recent days, the military has awarded contracts for "Advanced Friction Processing" ($940,310), "Generalized Network Assisted Transport" ($9.97 million), "Mission-oriented Adaptive Placement of Task and Data" ($6.8 million), and a "Direct Sampling Digital Receiver" ($487,286). DARPA also released a new request for futuristic technology development dealing with "Metamaterial-based Optical System Design." Some of the questions asked of developers are not just 1+1=2.
3. Making sure you can eat and use the bathroom. If you like to take to the great outdoors in the summer, maybe you have gone out west to the vast reaches of federal lands, whether national parks or U.S. Forest Service areas. The Forest Service yesterday awarded a $15,450 contract to a company to provide a "Backcountry Trail Cook" in the Marble Mountain Wilderness and Trinity Alps Wilderness on the Klamath National Forest, for a total of almost five months. Of course, when you eat and drink, you might need to use the bathroom, so the Fish and Wildlife Service okayed an $11,240 contact for a portable restroom in the Klamath Basin National Wildlife Research Center.
4. Subscriptions, subscriptions, and more subscriptions. As one might imagine, the sheer breadth of the federal government means there are a lot of workers with a lot of different interests. And they push their bosses to buy some interesting items. The Navy just agreed to pay $229,685 for a multi-site annual subscription to the library collections of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE). The Department of Energy authorized $23,700 for a one year subscription to Oxford Economics; the Air Force will spend $96,581 for the "Gold" level subscription to the Royal Society of Chemistry publications; the Energy Department will spend $64,821.92 for a one year SNL Energy Subscription Service for four users; the EPA will spend $10,675 to renew a subscription to CQ/Roll Call, while the FDA okayed $50,315 for a subscription to the PoliticoPro news service.
5. Odds and ends of military security. When you think about the U.S. military, you think about soldiers, ships, marines, planes and more. You don't usually think about all the other needs that must be dealt with to secure those facilities. So, you have $6,172 being spent for a police radar gun by the Army. And you have Fort Bragg in North Carolina shelling out almost $164,000 for "Law Enforcement Vehicle Graphics" - "This requirement is for install and supply of graphics (decals) on vehicles when they are placed into law enforcement service. The Government will provide the vehicles but will not provide the graphics."
There it is - another small snapshot of your tax dollars at work, for Uncle Sam.