Coin for Coins: Cause of Action Demands Agencies Reveal Wasteful Spending on Commemorative Items

Coins, keychains, and other awards are purchased with taxpayer dollars every year

WASHINGTON – In a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) Request sent today to 32 federal agency offices, government accountability group Cause of Action demanded production of information concerning commemorative awards that have been paid for by taxpayer dollars.

“Our economy is facing a recession, our government can’t pass a budget, and federal agencies are choosing to spend taxpayer dollars on trinkets for their employees or third parties,” said Dan Epstein, executive director of Cause of Action.  “Instead of preserving our tax dollars for necessary spending, these agencies have traded coin for coins that hold no value. This is yet another example of frivolous and wasteful government spending that deserves to be exposed.”

Citing a recent report on the U.S. General Services Administration’s (GSA) wasteful spending at a 2010 conference, Cause of Action wrote to federal agencies requesting documents relating to the acquisition, expenditures, and recipients of commemorative items.

“The GSA OIG determined the Western Regions Conference expenditures of $835,000 in taxpayer dollars were ‘excessive, wasteful, and in some cases impermissible’ and his report led to the resignation of GSA Administrator Martha Johnson,” Cause of Action’s letter states.

“We are sending these letters because if there are more instances of this type of wasteful spending, we intend to expose it,” Epstein said. “Americans deserve a transparent government and one that will not shirk from its fiduciary responsibilities.”

The following federal agencies have been given twenty days to respond to a FOIA request by Cause of Action concerning commemorative items:

  1. U.S. Department of Agriculture
  2. U.S. Department of Agriculture Office of Inspector General
  3. U.S. Department of Defen
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  4. U.S. Department of Defense Office of Inspector General
  5. U.S. Department of Homeland Security
  6. U.S. Department of Homeland Security Office of Inspector General
  7. U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development
  8. U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development Office of Inspector General
  9. U.S. Department of Labor
  10. U.S. Department of Labor Office of Inspector General
  11. U.S. Department of Energy
  12. U.S. Department of Energy Office of Inspector General
  13. U.S. Department of Education
  14. U.S. Department of Education Office of Inspector General
  15. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
  16. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Office of Inspector General
  17. U.S. Department of State
  18. U.S. Department of State Office of Inspector General
  19. U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs
  20. U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs Office of Inspector General
  21. U.S. Department of Transportation
  22. U.S. Department of Transportation Office of Inspector General
  23. U.S. Department of Interior
  24. U.S. Department of Interior Office of Inspector General
  25. U.S. Department of Treasury
  26. U.S. Department of Treasury Office of Inspector General
  27. U.S. Department of Commerce
  28. U.S. Department of Commerce Office of Inspector General
  29. U.S. Department of Justice
  30. U.S. Department of Justice Office of Inspector General
  31. U.S. Department of Health & Human Services
  32. U.S. Department of Health & Human Services Office of Inspector General

About Cause of Action:

Cause of Action is a non-partisan, non-profit organization that uses public advocacy and legal reform tools to ensure greater transparency in government, protect taxpayer interests and promote economic freedom. For more information, visit

Note: This release was updated April 11, 2012 to reflect four additional letters that were sent by Cause of Action to the Department of Justice and the Department of Health & Human Services. The original release was issued April 5, 2012.