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Millions wasted keeping empty bank accounts open

Updated: Saturday, August 3 2013, 02:34 PM CDT
In tonight's Waste Watch, out of control government spending on bank accounts taken to a whole new level.

Especially in light of the sequester cuts resulting in furloughed federal workers and frustrated travelers.
Ben Becker explains.

Expensive spending habits in the government  can be a hard habit to break

"The total bill when you add up all this waste has to be enormous."

Tim Gilbert is a political analyst. According to the Washington Post, Uncle Sam is spending $65 dollars a year in fees on 13,712 bank accounts with a zero balance. That works out to about $890 thousand dollars to keep them open.

"it's a situation where government is being irresponsible because it is not held accountable."

The accounts are opened when  a federal agency or department issues a grant. When the grant's time limit expires or the money runs out, the agency is supposed to close the account, but that requires a lot of effort, usually involving a long audit process.

"When your talking about 14 thousand bank accounts that we have no idea about that we continue to perpetuate without a function at all and no one wants to do anything about we have to say what's going on here."

The Obama administration is trying to fix the problem, and is having limited success. According to the Government Accountability Office, last year there were more than 28,000 empty accounts, racking up $2.1 million in fees

"If you had an empty bank account if your getting charged a fee what would you do?"

"I'd close it abruptly."

Jim Hager is a taxpayer. He can't believe the government is spending something for nothing.

"That's kind of a ridiculous thing..I could use some of that money."

One of the worst offenders is the U.S. Agency for International Development. It's number of empty accounts remains the same.  On the other hand, the National Parks Service closed all of its empty accounts.Millions wasted keeping empty bank accounts open


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