Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Charles Peters, NASS, and Bureaucratic Maneuvers

Charles Peters, the founder of the Washington Monthly, is a sometimes cynical viewer of the Washington merry-go-round (to mix up journalistic references).  He observed that whenever there was a battle over appropriations and budget cutting, the smart bureaucrats would, if they were in the National Park Service, plan to close the Washington Monument.  In other words, they'd threaten visible cuts of things near and dear to the appropriators, or at least the appropriators constituents. 

I think a hat tip is due to the bureaucrats at NASS, who may well have executed a classic closing-the-monument move.  With due credit to Chris Clayton, at DTN Progressive Farmer, he narrates:

Last week the New York Times had a good feature on the cutting of National Agricultural Statistics Service reports ranging from counting goats and catfish to minks, beer hops and bee keeping.

It was good timing, as the House and Senate appropriators met to hammer out differences in budgets. Appropriators opted to spend $6-9 million more on NASS than the two committees had individually budgeted, as an agricultural economics firm highlighted Tuesday.

Appropriators wrote in their conference report,

"While it is imperative for all of USDA's agencies and offices to prepare to address potential reductions in funding, the conferees are concerned that the agency made this announcement before the final appropriation was determined."

In other words, You guys made us give you more money because we didn't want to hear from the catfish guys that you are neglecting to count them."

Appropriators asked NASS to reconsider its decisions about cutting the reports and reinstate as many as possible.

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