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Federal Eye
Posted at 06:00 AM ET, 12/05/2011

What was the biggest government ‘oops’ of 2011?


The Transportation Security Administration couldn’t seem to go more than a week without a public relations headache this year, mostly because of screeners who overstepped their authority or misbehaved. (John Moore - GETTY IMAGES)
The end of the year is nearing with parties scheduled, accountants putting finishing touches on the books and performance reviews underway. Oh, what a year it has been.

Eye Opener

As the days inch closer to 2012, we’re compiling our year-end review and want your help determining the biggest “oops” moments of the year for the federal government.

Consider the potential choices — and then read about how we want your submissions:

— The Justice Department’s watchdog issues a report claiming officials once paid for $16 muffins served at a Washington conference. The report is later revised, but not before the Obama administration forces every federal agency to review conference and party policies.

— The government comes within one hour of officially shutting down in April as Congress and the White House spar over federal spending levels. The gridlock forces federal employees to brush off contingency plans not seen since 1994.

— In a meeting with reporters, Labor Secretary Hilda L. Solis raves about her energy-efficient sport-utility vehicle, which she said was made by American workers. But most of the car was manufactured in Canada.

— Watchdog groups said that $120 million annually in benefits are paid to dead federal workers, as many as 2.1 million taxpayers may have erroneously claimed a total of $3.2 billion in education tax credits and thousands of companies receiving economic stimulus money owe about $750 million in back taxes.

— The Obama administration attempts to relaunch the USAJobs.gov site after saying that a private company couldn’t manage it effectively. Then the site crashes because of increased traffic.

— The Air Force admitted in November to “gross mismanagement” at the Dover Air Force Base mortuary after whistle-blowers revealed cases of lost body parts, shoddy inventory control and lax supervision.

— The Office of Personnel Management faces complaints after dismissing federal employees early before a late January snowstorm.

— The Agriculture Department announces that Christmas tree growers plan to add a surcharge to tree prices, conservatives declare it a “Christmas tree tax” and the policy is quickly withdrawn.

— An agent with the Transportation Security Administration was removed from duty in October after discovering a sex toy in a woman’s luggage and leaving her an inappropriate note. The agency abandons plans to recruit new workers at the Iditarod amid complaints from animal rights activists. Most recently, an 84-year-old Florida woman said she was strip-searched at John F. Kennedy International Airport and a 17-year-old said she wasn’t allowed to board a flight because her purse had a gun design on it.

What do you think? Are there other goof-ups or bang-your-head-against-the-desk-in-disgust examples of government mistakes and mismanagement we forgot? And what about things the government did well this year? Share your thoughts in the comments section below, e-mail The Federal Eye and use #govoops on Twitter:

What was the biggest 'oops' moment of the year for the federal government? Tell us on Twitter using #govoops.

Follow Ed O’Keefe on Twitter: @edatpost

Further reading:

Occupy D.C. demonstrators arrested by U.S. Park Police

Iran says it downed U.S. stealth drone; Pentagon acknowledges aircraft downing

Some Democratic strategists worry about Gingrich’s potential appeal

For more, visit PostPolitics and The Fed Page.

By  |  06:00 AM ET, 12/05/2011

Categories:  Eye Opener

 
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