You Won’t Believe How Much the DEA Paid for Free Information

In the latest episode of startling government waste, the Drug Enforcement Agency’s Inspector General found that the DEA paid an Amtrak employee $854,460 for information it could have obtained for free all along.

From Fox News:

The employee was not publicly identified except as a “secretary to a train and engine crew” in a report on the incident by Amtrak’s inspector general. The secretary was allowed to retire, rather than face administrative discipline, after the discovery that the employee had effectively been acting as an informant who “regularly” sold private passenger information since 1995 without Amtrak’s approval, according to a one-paragraph summary of the matter.

On Monday, the office of Amtrak Inspector General Tom Howard declined to identify the secretary or say why it took so long to uncover the payments. Howard’s report on the incident concluded, “We suggested policy changes and other measures to address control weaknesses that Amtrak management is considering.” DEA spokesman Matt Barden declined to comment. …

Under a joint drug enforcement task force that includes the DEA and Amtrak’s own police agency, the task force can obtain Amtrak confidential passenger reservation information at no cost, the inspector general’s report said. Under an agreement, Amtrak police would receive a share of any money seized as a result of such drug task force investigations, and Amtrak’s inspector general concluded that DEA’s purchase of the passenger information deprived the Amtrak Police Department of money it would have received from resulting drug arrests.

The story prompted the top Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee,  Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa, to call for answers from the DEA. The Washington Free Beacon reports:

In a letter released Tuesday, Grassley pressed the DEA for answers on why the money was wasted, and how many similar mistakes have occurred.

“Has the DEA identified the weaknesses with their internal controls that allowed this improper and unnecessary use of taxpayer dollars to continue for nearly 20 years?” Grassley wrote.

Via Fox News and the Free Beacon.