JULY 14, 2014
The government agency that in the last year made over a billion dollars in “erroneous” payments and awarded a lucrative no-bid contract to a company that fleeced it, has overpaid millions for spare parts for a helicopter.
It sounds like a bad joke, but it’s par for the course in the Department of Defense (DOD), the monstrous agency that oversees the nation’s military forces. The DOD is the country’s largest employer and it gets exorbitant amounts of money from Congress, north of $495 billion in fiscal year 2014. It is also well-known for its reckless spending habits that have been well documented in federal audits over the years.
This month, for instance, the DOD Inspector General revealed that the agency overpaid around $9 million for spare parts for the Bell Helicopter Textron. It doesn’t stop there. The watchdog determined that, under the deal, the DOD might also overpay an additional $2.6 million in upcoming orders over the next year. “The contracting officer did not sufficiently determine whether prices were fair and reasonable for sole-source commercial parts negotiated on contract,” according to the IG. Here’s why: “…the contracting officer did not perform an adequate analysis when procuring sole-source commercial parts,” instead accepting the company’s pricing strategy in a noncompetitive environment.
This sort of thing has been occurring for years at the DOD and the agency hasn’t done a thing to stop the waste. In fact, last summer a federal audit revealed that the Pentagon loses such large sums of money to waste and fraud each year that it has no idea how much and nothing has been done to stop the hemorrhaging. The probe, conducted by the investigative arm of Congress, the Government Accountability Office (GAO), did confirm that the amount of public funds lost to waste and fraud amounted to at least $1.1 billion in one recent year alone, though investigators estimated it was likely much higher.
A few weeks before that audit was released to the public, the DOD IG had published a separate report disclosing that the agency rewarded a company that had fleeced it with a monstrous no-bid contract extension worth more than $4 billion. The outrageous deal, one of the largest U.S. military contracts in Afghanistan, involved a private firm hired to provide food and water to U.S. troops. The company, Supreme Foodservice GmbH, “overbilled” taxpayers by $757 million and, rather than severing ties, the Pentagon rewarded it with more business. It’s downright insane!
There have been many other cases of egregious waste or fraud over the years. In 2012 alone, the DOD lost billions for Iraq reconstruction efforts, $475 million worth of oil for the Afghan army and the agency blew $70 billion on dubious projects unrelated to its mission. This included $5.2 million to study fish that overcome political polarization and $700 million on “duplicative and unnecessary alternative energy” projects. The Pentagon also invested $1.5 million to create its own brand of beef jerky treats and $450,000 to study how babies interact with robots. You can’t make this stuff up. It’s all documented in a congressional report linked to a story published by Judicial Watch.
As bad as all this sounds, the prize undeniably goes to the $6.6 billion that the Pentagon somehow lost in Iraq. It’s a mind-boggling example of government corruption. Bundled in chunks of $100 bills, the money was transported in military turbo planes known as C-130 Hercules to Iraq for post-invasion “reconstruction.” About $2.4 billion fit in each aircraft and 21 flights made trips, transporting a total of $12 billion in American currency to Iraq. Half the money just vanished and will never be recovered, according to the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction, who calls it “the largest theft of funds in national history.”
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