As the Department of Commerce scrambles for an explanation, Representative Sandy Adams (FL-24) charges forward with calls for an investigation into taxpayer-funded conferences held by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP). Yesterday, Adams urged the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform and the Science, Space and Technology Subcommittee on Investigations and Oversight to investigate whistleblower documents that she has obtained.
"The American people are fed up with government agencies and entities misspending their hard-earned taxpayer dollars. While families are struggling to put food on the table in this down economy, we have government agencies that are living it up on the taxpayer dime. The Department of Commerce's response yesterday was nothing short of playing a semantics game with the American people's money. NIST knows that direct costs paid by their agency are not the only ones associated with this conference. They are fully aware that MEP centers are under contractual obligation to attend these conferences, and that the funds used by each center to attend come directly from the federal government's investment in MEP. Whether the true cost is $5 million or $1 million, it is a gross mismanagement of taxpayer funds, and the discrepancy in the dollar amount the department released and the documents I have is reason enough for Congress to forge ahead with an investigation.
"With more than 20 million Americans unemployed or underemployed, it is sad that agency officials chose to waste taxpayer dollars funding fancy conferences and exotic getaways instead of helping the manufacturers who are looking to create jobs and expand the economy. The American people deserve answers, and I intend to get them on their behalf."