Investigators with the U.S. Department of Commerce inspector general’s office reported finding numerous instances of waste, including paychecks of $300 apiece that went to thousands of temporary hires who performed little or no work. (Click here to read the IG’s report to Congress.) The findings were first reported by the Associated Press.
“We didn’t get a chance to review the report before it was released,” said Stephen Buckner, public information officer with the Census Bureau. “There were some overruns that we were aware of, so it wasn’t a surprise.”
The audit comes just weeks after the department spent $2.5 million on a widely panned Super Bowl ad. Sen. John McCain (R., Ariz.) condemned the spending via Twitter. “While the census is very important to AZ, we shouldn’t be wasting $2.5 million taxpayer dollars to compete with ads for Doritos!,” McCain tweeted.
Most of the cost overruns were tied to last fall’s preliminary canvassing. While the project finished ahead of schedule, Census Director Robert Groves has said it cost $88 million more than the original $356 million estimate, which he said was faulty.