Tax day is April 15, and on or before that day you had better have your tax return filed with the federal government – or have a really good excuse for not turning it in. Ahead of that day, here is a quick list of things the federal government is looking to buy with your tax dollars. Each item here was recently listed on FBO.gov, the official purchasing and solicitation website of the federal government.
1) Soybean Hulls – The Department of Agriculture is looking to purchase 350 tons of soybean hulls to be delivered in increments of two truckloads per week, starting at the end of June. The hulls must meet certain quality standards and be delivered to the U.S. Meat Animal Research Center in Clay Center, Nebraska. How much this will cost the federal government is not clear since this is a solicitation for bids and the lowest bidder with the best quality will win.
2) Standing Desks – The U.S. Navy wants an unspecified number of standing desks for a facility in Puget Sound, Washington. Interested suppliers need to calculate shipping costs into the bid, according to the contract solicitation.
3) Saxophones and French Horns – The Marine Corps needs 6 saxophones and 2 French horns for one of its bands.
4) Effective Writing Courses – The Department of the Treasury’s Office of International Affairs is willing to spend an unspecified amount of money on experts and course material to coach economists and policy experts on how to improve their writing. The course will be offered to government workers who have “experience creating a variety of written products on international economic policy issues for senior government and private sector officials” and will be taught at the Treasury Department’s headquarters next to the White House in Washington, D.C.
5) Make it in America Challenge grants Evaluation – The Obama Administration awarded over $20.5 million in 2013 through the Department of Labor to local recipients across the country to encourage the development of domestic manufacturing. Now, the feds want to see how effective their investment has been. So far, it appears, they’ve done little to measure the success or failure of their spending and now they are soliciting a private contractor to come in and tell them how the program is going.
6) Social and Gender Studies in the Philippines – The Millennium Challenge Corporation is a federal government entity that provides foreign aid around the world. Now they want to study poverty and social and gender barriers to escaping poverty in the Philippines.
7) Pakistan Defense Resources Conference – A solicitation for a Defense Security Cooperation Agency meeting on Pakistan offers an interesting glimpse into the details government bureaucrats find essential to a good government conference. The solicitation requires the vender to provide ” a full, hot American Breakfast [sic] buffet with individual room rates,” and “adequate refreshments and coffee refills” for the hardworking conference attendees.