Thursday, March 16, 2017

Alaska Ag....the lure of OPM

How heady the thought, how enticing the ideas, the fancies and fantasies, how vast the disconnect between the lure of other people's money, and the Division of Agriculture's responsibility to the public it serves. 

Seldom held to any sort of demonstrable standard of performance, the Division is busy spending, planning to spend, or diligently attempting to get other people's money. In this case, that money arises from the efforts of every working American, and let's not forget-the Daddy Warbucks of Alaska: Big Oil.

No overt shows of parsimony exist at the Division, acknowledging the current fiscal crisis. Oh, they've trimmed a single administration position, for window dressing.  But to increase their viability and show their importance to legislators, they have also hired at least three.  And they are actively working to literally steal programs and other personnel from one department, to their own.  To snare federal funding, federal grants, and state funding and grants. 

Normally this would be of little consequence to most residents. But to those who know, and watch, this particular set of moves is of grave concern.  The push to move the state vet's office under their control is a public safety issue.

The Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation is tasked with food safety for the State of Alaska. The state vet's office is actually a crucial, and complex position, and is tasked with safeguarding our food supply, among many other things. They engage in monitoring, testing, import, animal disease prevention and a whole host of other programs, big and small. But the Director is burning up the travel budgets and travel grants, making his case to move the State Vet anyway.

Five or six trips to Juneau, complete with air fare, per diem and other expenses, plus the normal entourage of at least one or two other Division employees....yessiree, they're acutely conscious of their budget constraints  And that is not all the DOA spends on, either.

There is now just one person administering the ARLF program. The line item for that is $495,700. A half a million dollars a *year* to service what? 100 loans? Is this reasonable to anyone?   After all, that does not include any ongoing losses caused by the malingering presence of MMM&S either. That slaughter plant is still fully on the State's books, as no word has been made public otherwise. Keep  in mind, that those losses (if any) are charged back to the borrowers in the ARLF, making for a net zero cost to the general fund, or any other fund within state government.  The ARLF recently had two persons tending the books and all that related paperwork (sure to be substantial) but the Division cut one position, in a show of economy. *cough cough*

Here's another little factoid about state government employee positions. Are you aware that a number of them are percentages? That is, if a person is undertaking other work, for another project or office within state government, then that other office or project pays for that portion. In this way, a person might get a base salary for 80 percent for the primary PCN, and the balance in percentages from others. (And you thought your record keeping was complicated? Ha!)  The end result is that division and agency heads can jockey for that additional funding, using those MOUs mentioned previously. Some comes direct from the "DGF" (Designated General Fund), and all the other sources, including federal grants.

It's been said that a forensic audit of the DOA would reveal the depth of corruption and the breadth of incompetence and futility, and would cost more than the Division's entire annual budget to perform.

It needs doing, a thorough forensic audit, whose cost is a pittance against the spending of the legislature in this, or any other year. Just go look at the previous legislative audit, and consider where the DOA is today.....years later.  And it should include the *entire* record on DOA travel, for the past five years. 

There are some frequent flyers there that need their wings clipped, yes indeed.

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