Of Course: HUD Awards $70 Million in Grants to Teach Grant Recipients How to Spend Grant Money More Wisely

Doug Powers by Doug Powers on June 12th, 2012

This is article 378 of 527 in the topic Government Spending

nullThis administration is always thinking of ways to save money.

You’d think that somebody handing out grant money would, as a part of the grant process, first establish exactly what the recipient is going to spend the money on before giving it out. But this is the government we’re talking about, and they’re handing out taxpayer money, so the conventional way of doing things pretty much goes out the window:

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development recently announced it is spending $70 million to improve the way its grant recipients spend billions in taxpayer cash.

Most of the $70 million will go to consulting companies that provide “technical assistance” to HUD-funded communities and non-profit organizations. The consultants will help the communities and nonprofits “improve their use of federal funds to revitalize neighborhoods, help the homeless and produce more affordable housing,” a May 15 new release said.

CNSNews.com asked a HUD official, “If I’m reading this correctly, this is a grant to teach people how to spend money they already have?”

“Absolutely,” responded HUD spokesman Brian Sullivan.

He said the $70 million is being spent to “amplify” the already-existing community development block grants handed out by HUD. In fiscal year 2012, those bock grants totalled around $3-billion.

I’d love to see who runs these “consulting companies.” I’ll bet anything we’d see a familiar name or two.

Imagine a grant officer for a private charity giving somebody a million dollars. Then, when his boss asked what the recipient was going to do with the grant money, the grant officer said “I’m not really sure… we should give somebody else a grant to go watch them and make sure they spend it judiciously.” This hypothetical grant officer would be fired, but fortunately there would probably be a job waiting for him at HUD.

From HUD’s press release concerning the “grant to teach recipients not to take the grants for granted” program:

In a budget climate where state and local governments are challenged to do more with less, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) today awarded $70 million in grants to help communities and non-profit organizations, improve their use of federal funds to revitalize neighborhoods, help the homeless and produce more affordable housing.

“These funds complement the eCon Planning Suite, new 21st century tools with new data and technology that HUD launched last week to help communities ensure that scarce federal dollars are targeted to where they are needed most and can achieve the biggest impact,” said HUD Assistant Secretary Mercedes Mãrquez. “The grants we award today will go a long way toward ensuring federally funded community development, affordable housing and homeless assistance work to make the greatest possible impact.”

“eCon”? Perfect. They’re hiring, too, which means you can get an eCon job as an eCon man for the government.

If the term “federally funded community development” isn’t an oxymoron, I don’t know what is. When I think “federally funded community development,” I think Detroit. No thanks.

As for the HUD grant for the HUD grants, how long will it be until somebody suspects the latest round of grants isn’t being spent as wisely as it should be, and there’s a grant for the monitoring of the grant to guide the grants?

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