Tom Coburn on Technology
Republican Jr Senator; previously Representative (OK-2)
Pervasive fraud in the National Science Foundation
The National Science Foundation is the source of federal backing in computer sciences and research. But Coburn found that while the NSF contributes to meaningful scientific discovery, there are pervasive problems at the agency:
NSF lacks adequate
oversight of its grant funding, which has led to mismanagement, fraud, and abuse and lack of knowledge regarding research outcomes. NSF wastes millions of dollars on many questionable projects. Among the grants that have been funded by NSF are:
Source: Now Or Never, by Sen. Jim DeMint, p.132-133
, Jan 10, 2012
A study suggesting that playing the game of FarmVille on Facebook helps adults develop and maintain relationships.
- An analysis of how quickly parents respond to trendy baby names.
- A grant to produce songs about science, including a rap
called "Money 4 Drugz" and a misleading song titled "Biogas is a Gas, Gas, Gas".
- A study on why the same teams always seem to be dominating March Madness.
- A study on whether online dating site users are racist in their dating habits.
Google for Government: all federal contracts on Internet
Tom Coburn, the right-wing senator from Oklahoma who struck up an odd friendship with Obama when they were both freshmen senators in 2005, called to suggest that Obama and McCain issue a joint statement in support of
Paulson's bailout. In the Senate in 2006, Obama and Coburn cosponsored the so-called Google-for-government bill that required the posting of federal contracts on the Internet.
They and their wives had dinner together and liked to joke that Obama could muss Coburn's hair, but Coburn had no way to muss Obama's.
Obama liked the idea and wanted to propose it first, before McCain (who had also heard from Coburn) got the chance.
Source: The Promise: Obama Year One, by Jonathan Alter, p. 6
, May 18, 2010
Voted NO on $23B instead of $4.9B for waterway infrastructure.
Vote on overriding Pres. Bush's veto. The bill reauthorizes the Water Resources Development Act (WRDA): to provide for the conservation and development of water and related resources, to authorize the Secretary of the Army to construct various projects for improvements to rivers and harbors of the United States. The bill authorizes flood control, navigation, and environmental projects and studies by the Army Corps of Engineers. Also authorizes projects for navigation, ecosystem or environmental restoration, and hurricane, flood, or storm damage reduction in 23 states including Louisiana.
Veto message from President Bush:
This bill lacks fiscal discipline. I fully support funding for water resources projects that will yield high economic and environmental returns. Each year my budget has proposed reasonable and responsible funding, including $4.9 billion for 2008, to support the Army Corps of Engineers' main missions. However, this authorization bill costs over $23 billion. This is not fiscally responsible, particularly when local communities have been waiting for funding for projects already in the pipeline. The bill's excessive authorization for over 900 projects and programs exacerbates the massive backlog of ongoing Corps construction projects, which will require an additional $38 billion in future appropriations to complete. This bill does not set priorities. I urge the Congress to send me a fiscally responsible bill that sets priorities.
Reference: Veto override on Water Resources Development Act;
Bill Veto override on H.R. 1495
; vote number 2007-406
on Nov 8, 2007
Voted NO on restoring $550M in funding for Amtrak for 2007.
An amendment to provide an additional $550,000,000 for Amtrak for fiscal year 2007. Voting YEA would increase Amtrak funding from $900 million to $1.45 billion. Voting NAY would keep Amtrak funding at $900 million.
Proponents of the bill say to vote YEA because:
- [In my state], Philadelphia's 30th Street station is the second busiest train station nationally, with over 3.7 million boarding a year. And 3,000 people are employed by Amtrak in Pennsylvania. Amtrak and the health of Amtrak is important.
- Last year the Senate transportation bill had $1.45 billion for Amtrak, which is obviously more than the $900 million in the current budget proposal. I am offering an amendment to increase that funding from the $900 million which is in the bill right now to the $1.45 billion level and adding $550 million.
- I support funding through the section 920 account [without a tax increase]. We have seen that without raising the cap or without raising taxes, the Senate has been able to
come up with a robust number for Amtrak which I will support within the context of a responsible budget.
- We have spent less money on Amtrak in the last 35 years than we will on highways in this year alone. And highways don't pay for themselves, even with the gas tax. Neither does mass transit, either in this country or anywhere else in the world. But we subsidize them because they improve the quality of our lives.
- We have never provided the kind of commitment to Amtrak that we have for other modes of transportation, and this amendment will be an important step to getting Amtrak off the starvation budgets that it has subsisted on for far too long.
Opponents of the bill say to vote NAY because:
Reference: Santorum amendment to Transportation funding bill;
Bill S.Amdt.3015 to S.Con.Res.83
; vote number 2006-052
on Mar 15, 2006
- The problem with that is there is no money in the section 920 account. If we want to talk about "funny money" financing, that is it--taking money from an account that has no money. This whole budget takes money we don't have. The result is we keep running up the debt.
Permanent ban on state & local taxation of Internet access.
Coburn co-sponsored permanently banning state & local taxation of Internet access
Permanent Internet Tax Freedom Act of 2007 - Amends the Internet Tax Freedom Act to make permanent the ban on state and local taxation of Internet access and on multiple or discriminatory taxes on electronic commerce.
Related bills: H.R.743, H.R.1077, H.R.3678, S.156.
Source: Permanent Internet Tax Freedom Act (S.2128) 07-S2128 on Oct 2, 2007
Website for competitive federal awards.
Coburn co-sponsored website for competitive federal awards
A bill to strengthen transparency and accountability in Federal spending.
Source: Strengthening Transparency and Accountability Act (S.3077) 2008-S3077 on Jun 3, 2008
- Improving application programming interface and website data elements.
- Recipient performance transparency. [For federal awards, show on internet...]
- a unique award identifier that identifies each individual award vehicle;
- the date that the financial award was made;
- the agency and department as well as subagencies and suboffices that have authorized the Federal award;
- in negotiated procurements, the highest, lowest, and median offered price among all technically acceptable proposals or bids.
- For all contracts after 2010, [show on internet...]
- both a copy in a format that reproduces the original image of each page and a copy in searchable text format of the request for proposals, the announcement of the award, the contract, and the scope of work to be performed;
- information about the extent of competition in making the award, including the number of qualified bids or proposals during the competitive process, and if the award was not competed, the legal authority and specific rationale for making the award without full and open competition;
- PRESENTATION OF DATA- The website shall present information about Federal awards providing search results for novices displayed in summary form; and
- providing more detailed information for more sophisticated users
- Performance Transparency- performance of individual contractors and recipients of financial assistance starting with awards given in fiscal year 2008 including an assessment of the quality of work performed on Federal awards during the past 5 years; and information about Federal audit disputes and resolutions.
Prohibit the return of the Fairness Doctrine.
Coburn signed Broadcaster Freedom Act
A bill to prevent the Federal Communications Commission from repromulgating the fairness doctrine. Amends the Communications Act of 1934 to prohibit the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), notwithstanding any other provision of any Act, from having the authority to require broadcasters to present opposing viewpoints on controversial issues of public importance, commonly referred to as the Fairness Doctrine.
Source: S.34&H.R.226 2009-S34 on Jan 6, 2009
Page last updated: Apr 23, 2013