Since passing the $862 billion stimulus package, President Obama has maintained "shovel-ready" projects---projects that are ready or almost ready to begin ---should get top priority when allocating stimulus money.
But not every federal agency appears to have received Obama's message, according to an internal email released today as part of "Summertime Blues," a report on stimulus waste by Senators John McCain (R-AZ) and Tom Coburn (R-OK).
In the email, employees of the City of San Antonio discuss how to best go forward with a public works project being overseen by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), which had been delayed and was over-budget due to federal regulations.
"FEMA stated to me that shovel-ready was not a term in their lexicon," San Antonio Deputy Fire Chief Rodney Hitzfelder wrote.
According to the report, FEMA awarded the City of San Antonio $7.3 million dollars of stimulus money for the construction of two fire stations. Prior to the award, the report says, San Antonio had been set to fund the fire stations with its own money. But the project became delayed after the city accepted the award because it had to contend with, "expensive federal regulations, requiring environmental and historical considerations."
The San Antonio example is one of 100 examples the Senators give of stimulus-funded projects that "accomplish questionable goals" or are mismanaged.
Calls to FEMA for comment were not immediately returned on Tuesday.