Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Tax money - real value for the money please

You'd think that, by now, we'd have gotten over our ability to be amazed at the ways in which our federal government can waste money.

After the sponsorship scandal and the Human Resources boondoggle, the gun registry and the national defence computer fiasco we should have grown so accustomed to mismanagement that we'd just shrug and say "So what."

But then we stop and remember where the money comes from to finance all these dodgy schemes -- from your pockets and our pockets -- and we get all twitchy again and start to hyperventilate and come very close to screaming.

The most recent extravagance to catch our eye demonstrates again that when it comes to our tax dollars, the prevailing attitude is still easy come, easy go.

As the Sun's Greg Weston detailed yesterday (Not much action from feds' integrity officer), it's tough to believe we're getting value for money when we take a look at the budget and the caseload of Edward W. Keyserlingk, federal public service integrity officer.

Keyserlingk's office was established in 2001, ostensibly to give public servants a forum to report government waste and mismanagement. Good idea, right? As with most federal programs, yes, at least in theory.

Keyserlingk was recruited for the job by Jean Chretien's government and started to cost us money right away when he refused to move to Ottawa, preferring to bill taxpayers $30,000 annually in hotel and commuting expenses between Ottawa and Montreal.

Last year, the office worked on 44 files, completing 30 of them. Twelve were dismissed, leaving 18 to be tackled by the nine-member staff, with an annual budget of just over $1.4 million.

Out of that total, there were three cases where the allegations were found to have merit -- none of which could be considered as anything more than trivial.

Just a little something to keep in mind as we sign off on our 2005 federal tax returns.

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