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SAMHSA Waste from Sen. Tom Coburn

Dr. Coburn's 2013 Government Wastebook featured SAMHSA on page 64

You're Invited to a Hollywood Party at Paramount Studios…Sponsored by U.S. Taxpayers – (HHS) $195,000

Just days before the government shutdown, the Department of Health and Human Services instructed the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) to use its available grant balances to continue operating vital services (FN .467)


But instead of pooling together resources to provide critical mental health services during the shutdown, SAMHSA spent taxpayer dollars to throw a Hollywood party! (FN 468)


Five days before the government shutdown, SAMHSA rolled out its own red carpet at Paramount Studios in Hollywood. (FN 469) In true Hollywood fashion, actors, directors, publicists, and stylists posed for plenty of pictures before letting loose at the federally-funded bash. (FN 470)


This is not the first eyebrow-raising expense on SAMHSA's taxpayer-backed tab. Members of Congress from both political parties have questioned the agency's wasteful spending on frivolous and professionally-questionable conferences, (FN 471) as well as the use of its federal grants to lobby against duly enacted laws by the grantees. (FN 472)


With $168 million in sequestration cuts to SAMHSA preventing 330,000 people from receiving mental health services in 2013,473 the House Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations cautioned SAMHSA's administrator, Pamela Hyde, to "be certain that your number one mission needs to be fulfilled and everything else comes secondary."474 After a lawmaker expressed her desire that "[wasteful] expenditures aren't being made…with the sequester and other cuts looming." (FN 475) Hyde stated that she "had no choice as public administrator but to focus [SAMHSA's] dollars and we do that every day."(FN 476)


It seems that the mental health needs of Americans became a secondary mission of SAMHSA when it spent scarce resources on a taxpayer-funded Hollywood party.


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FOOTNOTES (FN):
467 Health and Human Services. "Contingency Staffing Plan for Operations in the Absence of Enacted Annual Appropriations." Hhs.gov. Department of Health and Human Services. Web. <http://www.hhs.gov/budget/fy2014/fy2014contingency_staffing_plan-rev2.pdf>.
468 Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. SAMHSA Press Office. SAMHSA Honors Community and Entertainment Leaders at 2013 Voice Awards for Giving a Voice to Behavioral Health Recovery. Www.samhsa.gov. SAMHSA, 26 Sept. 2013. Web. <http://www.samhsa.gov/newsroom/advisories/1309262617.aspx>.
469 Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. SAMHSA Press Office. SAMHSA Honors Community and Entertainment Leaders at 2013 Voice Awards for Giving a Voice to Behavioral Health Recovery. Samhsa.gov. SAMHSA, 26 Sept. 2013. Web. <http://www.samhsa.gov/newsroom/advisories/1309262617.aspx>.
470 Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. "Voice Awards Live Webcast." 25 September 2013. Web. <http://www.samhsa.gov/voiceawards/#sthash.LebYNDVt.dpuf>.
471 Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations. "Examining SAMHSA's Role in Delivering Services to the Severely Mentally Ill." Democrats.energycommerce.house.gov. House Committee on Energy and Commerce. 22 May 2013. Web <http://democrats.energycommerce.house.gov/sites/default/files/documents/Transcript-OI-SAMHSA-Mentally-Ill-Services-2013-5-22.pdf>. Preliminary Transcript (57-59).
472 Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations. "Examining SAMHSA's Role in Delivering Services to the Severely Mentally Ill." Democrats.energycommerce.house.gov. House Committee on Energy and Commerce. 22 May 2013. Web 153
Wastebook 2013
<http://democrats.energycommerce.house.gov/sites/default/files/documents/Transcript-OI-SAMHSA-Mentally-Ill-Services-2013-5-22.pdf>. Preliminary Transcript (57-59).
473 Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations. "Examining SAMHSA's Role in Delivering Services to the Severely Mentally Ill." Democrats.energycommerce.house.gov. House Committee on Energy and Commerce. 22 May 2013. Web. <http://democrats.energycommerce.house.gov/sites/default/files/documents/Transcript-OI-SAMHSA-Mentally-Ill-Services-2013-5-22.pdf>. Preliminary Transcript (46).
474 Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations. "Examining SAMHSA's Role in Delivering Services to the Severely Mentally Ill." Democrats.energycommerce.house.gov. House Committee on Energy and Commerce. 22 May 2013. Web <http://democrats.energycommerce.house.gov/sites/default/files/documents/Transcript-OI-SAMHSA-Mentally-Ill-Services-2013-5-22.pdf>. Preliminary Transcript (67).
475 Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations. "Examining SAMHSA's Role in Delivering Services to the Severely Mentally Ill." Democrats.energycommerce.house.gov. House Committee on Energy and Commerce. 22 May 2013. Web <http://democrats.energycommerce.house.gov/sites/default/files/documents/Transcript-OI-SAMHSA-Mentally-Ill-Services-2013-5-22.pdf>. Preliminary Transcript (71).
476 Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations. "Examining SAMHSA's Role in Delivering Services to the Severely Mentally Ill." Democrats.energycommerce.house.gov. House Committee on Energy and Commerce. 22 May 2013. Web <http://democrats.energycommerce.house.gov/sites/default/files/documents/Transcript-OI-SAMHSA-Mentally-Ill-Services-2013-5-22.pdf>. Preliminary Transcript (102).


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