UPDATE — 4/20, 5:09 p.m. EDT: The Center for Strategic & International Studies (CSIS) released a report highlighting $59 billion worth of projects that DOD abandoned in the 2000s “without any fielded systems to show for it.”
18 canceled programs are listed by CSIS in the report, including $18.1 billion for the Army’s “Future Combat Systems”, $7.9 billion for the “RAH-66 Comanche” helicopter, $5.8 billion for an Airforce/NOAA “Polar-orbiting” satellite system and $5.2 billion for the “Airborne Laser”.
CSIS also notes that the list of 18 unrealized projects is not “exhaustive”.
The Center for Public Integrity published an article on Thursday about the nontransparent nature of the Department of Defense (DOD) in regards to itemized spending — the implications of which point to massive waste at the government’s largest federal agency.
While the Pentagon has been legally unaccountable for three decades now, the latest example of the military’s fiscal irresponsibility comes from a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request made in July 2015 by Martin Peck, a software developer from Oregon, who asked DOD to take stock of their “HotPlug” inventory.
A HotPlug is a device the military uses to keep a confiscated enemy laptop up and running while in transport. On the open U.S. market, the equipment sells for up to $549.
In denying Mr. Peck’s request, the Pentagon cited an unreasonable cost of $660 million and 15 million man-hours — 1,712 years — to perform an inventory check of one item.
The Electronic Documents Access (EDA) system that the Pentagon uses as their database, holds 45 million documents but does not have the capability to perform a text search which complies with FOIA requirements, as laid out by internal DOD regulations.
“No method exists for a complete text search of EDA, as some documents are scans of paper copies,” said a response letter from the Pentagon to Mr. Peck.
“We’re too big to just sort of blow up all our systems and go buy one new, gargantuan IT system that runs the entire Department,” reasoned Pentagon CFO Mike McCord.
Not only is the Pentagon incapable of complying with FOIA, it is also the only federal agency that has yet to comply with the Chief Financial Officers Act (1990), which requires all government organizations to conduct an annual audit.
One recent example of military waste was the widely reported purchase of unnecessary spare parts for the C-130 transport plane and V-22 Osprey helicopter from July 2012 to May 2015. Because no inventory check could be carried out to identify appropriate equipment already in stock, DOD laid out $15.3 million in unneeded purchases.
Perhaps with President Eisenhower’s 1961 farewell address in mind, a left-right Senate alliance has been forged to help curtail America’s military-industrial complex with the Audit the Pentagon Act of 2015.
Co-sponsors include Sens. Sanders (I-Vt.), Cruz (R-Texas) and Manchin (D-W.V.).
“The Treasury Department’s Financial Report of the U.S. government for fiscal year 2012 shows the DOD yet again has nothing to audit — its books are a mess,” the bill’s co-sponsors said in a statement. “In the last dozen years, the Pentagon has broken every promise to Congress about when DOD would pass an audit. Meanwhile, Congress doubles Pentagon spending.”
The Department of Defense’s budget currently accounts for more than half of discretionary spending by the entire federal government.
[The Center for Public Integrity] [The Daily Caller] [Nader.org] [c-span.org] [Photo courtesy gbengaaborowa.wordpress.com]