Oversight & Investigations

Get full access to our extensive oversight and investigative report archives, including those of former United States Senator Tom Coburn.

These independent reports contain important findings on a diverse range of Federal programs from the Department of Defense to the National Science Foundation. 

Ivy League FlunkersIvy League Flunkers

April 2017

A first-of-its-kind analysis by Restore Accountability and White Coat Waste Project has documented widespread transparency failures by Ivy League universities receiving more than $2 billion annually from the National Institutes of Health (NIH). This report demonstrates that 100 percent of these universities’ 2016 press releases detailing NIH-funded animal experiments—representing nearly a quarter-billion dollars in taxpayer funds—violated federal law requiring disclosure of government funding details. Read the full report

Drunk on DebtDrunk on Debt Vol. 2

March 2017

As the Irish saying goes, "It is better to spend money like there's no tomorrow than to spend tonight like there's no money!" Well, the Federal government has been spending money like there is no tomorrow, but unlike a night of drinking, future generations will have to pay the tab. While our government may be partying now, failing to set priorities will leave our country with a horrible hangover. Continue Reading...

12 Days of Waste 12 Days of Waste

December 2016  

Take a journey with us along the #12DaysofWaste as we explore a dozen reasons reasons Uncle Sam was naughty this year. If nothing is done to curb Washington's yearly indulgences, the American people could soon end up with coal in their stockings. Read the full report.

WastegivingWastegiving

November 2016  

In this holiday season, we give thanks to our loyal readers and fellow wastewatchers. As a small thank you, we present "WasteGiving 2016," a compilation of waste identified by our friends and partners. Just as this holiday involves lots of travel, family time, eating, and yes, napping, we take a similarly themed journey through Washington's wasteful spending, complete with all the fixings. Read the full report. 

Ivanpah Solar

Google This:  Billions in Federal Tax Dollars at Risk in Failing Solar Mirror Project

April 2016 

A $2.2 billion solar electric generating facility, backed by significant government help, is at risk of defaulting. Restore Accountability takes a brief look inside the Ivanpah project. Read the full report.

Drunk on Debt Drunk on Debt

March 2016 

The first of our bite-sized reports, Drunk on Debt is a St. Patrick’s Day themed report of Uncle Sam’s boozy government waste, fraud and abuse. The report is meant to be a fun conversation starter and is comprised of information readily available to the public and from our own archives. Agree or disagree with its entries, it is clear that choices will have to be made to secure our future.  Read the full report. 

DHS ReportA Review of the Department of Homeland Security's Missions and Performance

January 2015

Created after the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, DHS is the result of the largest reorganization of government in more than a half century. Today, the Department’s spends approximately $61 billion annually and employs more than 240,000 people. It includes many different components, directorates, offices, and programs with a broad range of missions. This report reviews each of DHS’s five main missions, where it is falling short with each, and provides recommendations to make the Department more efficient and effective.  Read the full report.

tax decoder

Tax Decoder

December 2014

Tax Decoder, is intended to decode the tax code for every taxpayer. It reveals more than 165 tax expenditures costing over $900 billion this year and more than $5 trillion over the next five years. Read the full report here.

2014 wastebook

Wastebook 2014: What Washington doesn't want you to read.

October 2014 

Wastebook 2014 — the report Washington doesn’t want you to read —reveals the 100 most outlandish government expenditures this year, costing taxpayers billions of dollars. Read the full report here.

banking on the poor

Banking on the Poor

August 2014

This report reveals the federal New Markets Tax Credit program is benefiting big banks and private investors that are claiming more than $1 billion of the credit annually. 

chemical insecurity

Chemical Insecurity

June 2014

This report details how the multi-million dollar effort by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to secure dangerous chemical facilities from terrorists is a near-total failure. The report, drawing from documents obtained from DHS, interviews, as well as audits and reviews by the Government Accountability Office (GAO) and the DHS Inspector General, points to a laundry list of errors and bad decisions, many of which the Department has worked to keep from the public. Additional information here.

friendly fire

Friendly Fire: Death, Delay, and Dismay at the VA

June 2014 

This report is based on a year-long investigation of VA hospitals around the nation that chronicled the inappropriate conduct and incompetence within the VA that led to well-documented deaths and delays.  The report also exposes the inept congressional and agency oversight that allowed rampant misconduct to grow unchecked.

Click here to read the entire report or here for a summary. The top 10 most outrageous VA behaviors are here. The top 10 VA boondoggles are here

wastebook 2013

Wastebook 2013

December 2013 
Wastebook 2013 highlights 100 examples of wasteful and low-priority spending totaling nearly $30 billion.  

parked

PARKED! How Congress' Misplaced Priorities Are Trashing Our National Parks

October 2013

"PARKED!" documents how members of Congress have used the Park Service to advance parochial interests while ignoring billions in maintenance backlog at our nation’s most prized national parks, and outlines areas of low-priority and wasteful spending by the Park Service.  More information here.  

SSDI

Social Security Disability: A Case Study of the Conn Law Firm 

October 2013

A report from the Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs shows how some legal, medical, and judicial professionals abused social security disability programs for the country’s most vulnerable.  The report highlights how fraud is jeopardizing funding for the truly disabled. Read the full report.

 

Cover

Safety at Any Price: Assessing the Impact of Homeland Security Spending in U.S. Cities

December 2012 

Senator Tom Coburn, M.D. (R-OK) released an oversight report, “Safety at Any Price: Assessing the Impact of Homeland Security Spending in U.S. Cities." The report is based on a year-long investigation of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) grant programs and the Urban Areas Security Initiative (UASI). More than $35 billion has been spent on DHS grant programs since 2003 with the intent to make Americans safer from terrorist attacks. However, 10 years later, DHS has been unable to establish goals or metrics to ensure that funds were used to make Americans safe, and cannot accurately measure how much safer we are today after spending $35 billion. For the full report, click here.

DOD Report

Department of Everything

November 2012

Senator Tom Coburn, M.D. (R-OK) released an oversight report, “Department of Everything.” The report outlines how DOD can save $67.9 billion over ten years by making specific cuts to what Dr. Coburn describes as “non-defense” defense spending – spending that DOD can cut without cutting vital defense priorities.  For the full report, click here.

wastebook 2012

Wastebook 2012

October, 2012

Senator Tom Coburn, M.D. (R-OK) released the fourth annual oversight report, “Wastebook 2012”, highlighting more than $18 billion in examples of some of the most egregious ways your taxpayer dollars were wasted in 2012. This report highlights 100 of the year’s countless unnecessary, duplicative and low-priority projects spread throughout the federal government. Click here for the full report. 

Treasure MAP

Treasure MAP: The Market Access Program’s Bounty of Waste, Loot and Spoils Plundered from Taxpayers

June 2012

Dr. Coburn's new oversight report, "Treasure MAP" highlights more than $2 billion in taxpayer dollars indirectly subsidizing the advertising costs of some of the most profitable agriculture companies and trade associations doing business overseas. You will recognize many of these company brands as household names, such as Welch’s, Sunkist, and Blue Diamond.

money for nothing

Money for Nothing

June 2012

To show how Congress' lack of oversight is impacting real people, Dr. Coburn released "Money for Nothing", a report highlighting more than $70 billion in federal funds left unspent years after being appropriated by Congress due to poorly drafted laws, bureaucratic obstacles and mismanagement, and a general lack of interest or demand from the communities to which this money was allocated.

wastebook 2011

Wastebook 2011

December 2011

Dr. Coburn released Wastebook 2011 highlighting some of the most wasteful and low-priority spending in 2011, providing over $6.5 billion in examples of some of the most egregious ways taxpayer dollars were spent in the past year.

Welfare for Millionaires Report Nov. 2011

Subsidies of the Rich and Famous

November 2011

As the country looks for solutions for how to include tax reform in a plan to address our massive deficit, Dr. Coburn released this report illustrating how, under the current tax code, the federal government is giving billions of dollars to individuals with an Annual Gross Income (AGI) of at least $1 million, subsidizing their lavish lifestyles with the taxes of the less fortunate.

Back in Black cover

Back in Black: A Deficit Reduction Plan

July 2011

Amid the yearlong debate over how to solve our country's serious debt and spending problem, Senator Coburn released his own deficit reduction report titled, "Back in Black". This 624-page report outlines how the federal government can reduce the deficit by $9 trillion over the next ten years and balance the federal budget. For a section-by-section outline of the report, click here.

NSF report cover

The National Science Foundation: Under the Microscope

April 2011

Senator Coburn releases an oversight report on the National Science Foundation, identifying billions lost to waste, mismanagement and duplication. 

Help Wanted report image

Help Wanted: How Federal Job Training Programs are Failing Workers

February 2011

Senator Coburn, M.D. released this oversight report, “Help Wanted” that highlights examples of waste, fraud and mismanagement in federal job training programs. This report accompanies a Government Accountability Office (GAO) report which shows in fiscal year 2009 nine federal agencies spent approximately $18 billion to administer 47 separate employment and job training programs, all but three of which are duplicative. 

Wastebook 2010 picture

Wastebook 2010: A Guide to Some of the Most Wasteful Government Spending of 2010

November 2010

Senator Coburn released a new oversight report, “Wastebook 2010” that highlights some of the most egregious examples of government waste in 2010.

Dead people report image

Federal Programs to Die For: American tax dollars sent six feet under

October 2010

Senator Coburn released an oversight report that exposes more than $1 billion that has been sent to the deceased in the past decade. Washington paid for dead people’s prescriptions and wheelchairs, subsidized their farms, helped pay their rent, and even chipped in for their heating and air conditioning bills.

DOJ party pic

Party at the D.O.J.

July 2010

Dr. Coburn has released a new oversight report “Party at the DOJ” that describes how DOJ is wasting millions of taxpayer dollars on recreational activities that are undermining DOJ’s core mission to enforce the law, prevent crime and administer justice.

Beach Report

Washed Out to Sea - How Congress Prioritizes Beach Pork Over National Needs

May 2009 

It is no day at the beach for American taxpayers when billions of dollars worth of sand projects go out with the tide. Yet, in his oversight report “Washed Out to Sea, How Congress Prioritizes Beach Pork Over National Needs,” Senator Tom Coburn details just how beachfront communities, D.C. lobbyists, and Members of Congress have teamed up to “save” beaches with federally funded sand – an effort that always results in additional requests for sand projects in the future. (Direct link to report)

Report: CDC Off Center

CDC Off Center

June 2007

CDC Off Center” is a 115-page oversight report examining how the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has tilted off center. The report makes recommendations about how the CDC might get back on track. The American people expect CDC to spend its $10 billion budget treating and preventing disease and dealing with public safety threats, including the threat of bioterrorism. Instead, CDC has spent hundreds of millions of tax dollars for failed prevention efforts, international junkets, and lavish facilities, while failing to demonstrate it is controlling disease. (Direct link to report)

2008: The Worst Waste of the Year Report

2008: Worst Waste of the Year

December 2008

With billions of taxpayer dollars spent on low-priority and questionable projects, 2008 was a banner year for wasteful Washington spending. 2008: The Worst Waste of the Year highlights more than $1 billion in taxpayer funding that Washington bureaucrats and politicians wasted on more than 60 examples of waste: everything from an inflatable alligator to training for casino workers to an unsuccessful search for Alaskan ice worms and extraterrestrial life forms.  (Direct link to report)