Magazine June 20, 2011, Issue

Bureaucratic Insanity

A worker arrives at the Department of Health and Human Services, Washington, D.C. October 1, 2013. (James Lawler Duggan/Reuters)
The federal agency that wastes money while undermining public health

Some federal-budget cutters claim that we have already picked all the low-hanging fruit. Those of us who work in Washington know better, although it is not considered polite to say so. One counterexample is SAMHSA, a federal health agency distinguished by the fact that the health of its clients would improve if it went out of business.

The acronym stands for the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, a $3.6 billion component of the Department of Health and Human Services. It employs 537 people, who have an average salary of $107,760; almost three-quarters have jobs rated a 13 or higher

E. Fuller Torrey — Mr. Torrey, a psychiatrist, is the founder of the Treatment Advocacy Center (www.treatmentadvocacycenter.org) and the author of The Insanity Offense: How America’s Failure to Treat the Seriously Mentally Ill Endangers Its Citizens (W. W. Norton).

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Do the Jefferson

Too many tourists, too much traffic noise, swampy D.C. weather, the occasional grunt and scream as the cops tackle people for illegal Monument Dancing.

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