Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Call an Earmark an Earmark

I've used this title before, but Representative Scott Garrett made it into the Warren Reporter for getting a "grant" again:
This Institute was made possible by a grant of $894,348 awarded to Centenary College from the U.S. Department of Justice to develop a fully-integrated incident response and crisis management training for law enforcement agencies and first responders in small rural and suburban communities in Northwest New Jersey, as announced by Congressman E. Scott Garrett in June.

This was an earmark. The problem is that calling these things grants gives the impression that the program beat out other similar programs for funding because it's a superior use of taxpayer money. This simply isn't the case.

I have nothing against Centenary. It's a excellent school that I was fortunate to visit during the campaign a few years back. The problem is with the earmarking practice as it relates to taxpayer money.

Could another NJ college provide this same program at a lower cost? Could another college have better outcomes? Is another college more qualified?

We'll never know the answers to these questions because there was no competition for these funds. With Garrett bestowing the money, we lose the guarantee of a review beforehand, and the reporting requirements on an earmark are less than for a grant after the fact.

I have no doubt Centenary will do a fine job, but let's call and earmark an earmark.