Agriculture Department Paid $2 Million for a Single Intern

Lachlan Markay /

A report from the Agriculture Department’s Inspector General has revealed some stunning examples of financial waste in the Department’s nascent technology security efforts, which have mismanaged about $63 million in taxpayer funding.

Among the IG’s findings: the USDA spent more than $2 million on an internship program that only hired one full-time intern, $3 million on technology hardware that was never used, and $235,000 on a project that was later canceled due to redundancy.

The office of USDA’s chief information officer, which was the subject of the report, “had not established internal control procedures, such as monitoring and oversight, for project management, and did not adequately plan its projects or how it would utilize resources,” the IG noted in explaining the underlying causes of financial mismanagement.

“With proper coordination within OCIO and improved communication between project managers, these unnecessary costs could have been avoided,” the IG explained. But because USDA has so far failed to address those underlying issues, “the Department is still at significant risk” for further financial losses.

Some highlights from the report: