State: a sea of cluelessness

by Anthony Pignataro | August 13, 2010 1:54 pm

AUGUST 13, 2010

Earlier this week I beat up[1] on the California High Speed Rail Authority for failing to provide a coherent number of the number of contractors working for it. While this is indeed a stunning example of a bureaucracy not exercising proper control over the billions of dollars it consumes – and it will consume $40 billion to $70 billion more over the coming years as it attempts to lay down 800 miles of bullet train tracks across the state – it is far from the only such example.

Around the same time we published that contractor story the California State Auditor released a new report[2] called Data Reliability: State Agencies’ Computer-Generated Data Varied in Their Completeness and Accuracy. It is, like most Auditor reports, a compelling expose of state offices and agencies that don’t consider accountability their highest mission.

Let’s start with the state Department of Public Health, which oversees the disposal of low-level radioactive waste. I wrote about problems here five months ago (click here [3]to read that story) and it turns out that nothing much has changed there:

Then there are problems with the Department of Social Services’ Safely Surrendered Baby Law. According to the law, distraught or otherwise impaired parents can “surrender” a baby (less than 72 hours old) to the department with no fear of prosecution for child abandonment. Problems, though, are myriad:

Worst of all, though, is the situation over at the Department of Corrections – its $10 billion a year in expenditures sucks up 10 percent of the General Fund. It’s also a costly mess with little actual oversight of its spending:

Wait, we still have parolees to worry about because, apparently, Corrections isn’t all that concerned of who gets released from prison or why:

Far from an aberration, the inability of the state’s bullet train authority to provide a single number is, in fact, just one more example of the mediocrity that plagues state bureaucracies.

-Anthony Pignataro

  1. beat up:
  2. new report:
  3. here :

Source URL: