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Author Topic: Pentagon lost $8.5 trillion  (Read 1444 times) Share
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RecycleMichael
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« on: February 10, 2014, 07:56:30 am »

http://finance.yahoo.com/blogs/daily-ticker/want-cut-government-waste-8-5-trillion-pentagon-142321339.html

If you thought the botched rollout of Obamacare, the government shutdown, or the sequester represented Washington dysfunction at its worst, wait until you hear about the taxpayer waste at the Defense Department.

Special Enterprise Reporter Scot Paltrow unearthed the “high cost of the Pentagon’s bad bookkeeping” in a Reuters investigation. It amounts to $8.5 trillion in taxpayer money doled out by Congress to the Pentagon since 1996 that has never been accounted for. (The year 1996 was the first that the Pentagon should have been audited under a law requiring audits of all government departments. Oh, and by the way, the Pentagon is the only federal agency that has not complied with this law.)

Here are some some highlights he found among the billions of dollars of waste and dysfunctional accounting at the Pentagon:
•The DOD has amassed a backlog of more than $500 billion in unaudited contracts with outside vendors. How much of that money paid for actual goods and services delivered isn’t known.
•Over the past 10 years the DOD has signed contracts for provisions of more than $3 trillion in goods and services. How much of that money is wasted in overpayments to contractors, or was never spent and never remitted to the Treasury is a mystery.
•The Pentagon uses a standard operating procedure to enter false numbers, or “plugs,” to cover lost or missing information in their accounting in order to submit a balanced budget to the Treasury. In 2012, the Pentagon reported $9.22 billion in these reconciling amounts. That was up from $7.41 billion the year before.
•The accounting dysfunction leads the DOD to buy too much stuff. One example: the “vehicular control arm” to supply Humvees. In 2008, the DOD had 15,000 parts -- a 14-year supply (anything more than three years is considered excess supply). Yet from 2010 to 2012, it bought 7,437 more of these parts and at higher prices than they paid for the ones they already had.

The Defense Department’s 2012 budget was $565.8 billion. Paltrow points out that’s more than the annual defense budgets of the next 10 biggest military spenders combined. He tells us the Pentagon “almost certainly is” the biggest source of waste in the government based on his reporting.

Looking forward, defense spending in the fiscal 2014 budget is set to be cut $20 billion from 2013 levels due to the sequester. In response, military officials, including Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, have raised an alarm over the impact of these cuts. Hagel told a conference the cuts are “too steep, too deep, and too abrupt.”

The Wall Street Journal reports Marine Corps Commandant Gen. James F. Amos told a House panel in September the “abruptness and inflexibility of sequestration…could erode our readiness to dangerous levels.”

“So much of that could be cut, that the impact of the sequester would be much less than [what] Pentagon officials are claiming.” He adds that officials are basing their budget requests on their own priorities, rather than firm knowledge of what’s needed because leaders don’t know what money is slushing around.

The good news is that because of arguments over the deficit and the budget, Paltrow sees signs that members of Congress are getting serious about waste at the Pentagon.
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« Reply #1 on: February 10, 2014, 09:13:53 am »

Spending bills originate in the House. It's unlikely the authoritarians there would want to be seen as "soft on defense" so I have to wonder if there’s much hope of genuine reform.

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« Reply #2 on: February 10, 2014, 09:39:35 am »

Here are some articles on where the bloat starts with the Pentagon: Too many leaders and Congress is afraid to stand up to generals and admirals.  It’s very much like every other government bureaucracy, only when you challenge a military leader, you are seen as being un-patriotic.  Every department leader circles the wagons and claims all their department needs all personnel and budget cuts would decimate the intended function of their little fiefdom.  

This was something I started looking into a few weeks ago after an email meme hit my in box claiming President Obama had fired over 2000 generals due to their religious beliefs.  That sounded like more generals than could possibly be on active duty and I was right, though there apparently still is a problem with too much brass at the top.

Before anyone mistakes this for hating on troops on the ground, far from it.  It’s a simple matter that the Pentagon is yet one more out of control government bureaucracy which spends billions more than it needs.

Not a fan of “Truth-Out” as a publication but Dina Rasor has a ton of credibility on government waste:

http://truth-out.org/opinion/item/5920:the-pentagons-biggest-overrun-way-too-many-generals

http://www.usnews.com/opinion/blogs/world-report/2013/07/24/the-pentagon-has-too-many-troops

Quote
Troop levels are being cut. Civilians are being furloughed. Planes are being grounded. Ships are being docked. But the Pentagon's top ranks are thriving.
Over the past 10 years, as the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan raged, the U.S. military's enlisted ranks shrank, while the officer corps – particularly the general and flag officer ranks – and the bureaucracy supporting these top commanders, grew immensely.

Earlier this month Third Way released a report on this trend, reaching a disquieting conclusion – the U.S. military is more top-heavy than it has ever been. While I, and others, have documented this trend before, it's only gotten worse. The U.S. military now has an officer-to-enlisted personnel ratio that's at an all-time high; this imbalance will only worsen with the recent announcement of further reductions to the force.

In hopes of slashing some of this bloat, last week Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel ordered a 20 percent reduction to top military brass and their staffs. However, Hagel offered no details and indicated that cuts won't begin until 2015.

Unfortunately, the Pentagon has a poor track record of following through on plans to trim its top ranks.

In 2010, former Secretary of Defense Robert Gates called for eliminating more than 100 general and flag officer positions as part of his Efficiency Initiatives. Despite this clear plan and Pentagon assurances that "we did cut generals," the top ranks remain largely intact. In those ranks, as with the rest of the force, it's the lower ranks that bear the burden while the top ranks are spared.

When you compare Gates' plan with the most recent data available on the number of general and flag officers, the conclusion is clear – the Pentagon isn't adhering to Gates' Efficiency Initiatives. While the number of these officers on DoD's payroll has dropped since Gates' announcement, the vast majority of those cut are one-stars – in fact, more one-stars have been cut than Gates recommended. However, reductions to the top ranks are lagging far behind Gates' plan. As a result, the Pentagon still has 37 four-star general and flag officers, or G/FOs, on its payroll, which is more four-stars than served during World War II – when the military had nearly 10 times as many enlisted personnel.



This bloat at the top has had a trickle-down effect that hinders troops and wastes money.

A May 2013 GAO analysis found that the number of support staff at DoD's Combatant Command headquarters grew "by about 50 percent from fiscal years 2001 through 2012." This has created added distance between commanders and warfighters. "In some cases the gap between me and an action officer may be as high as 30 layers," Gates once stated, resulting in a "bureaucracy which has the fine motor skills of a dinosaur."

A top-heavy military also has serious financial costs. Despite a declining defense budget, generals and admirals continue to live like kings, living in mansions and surrounding themselves with entourages that would make Jay-Z envious. In fact, according to a recent Los Angeles Times report, there are "hundreds of high-priced homes in the Pentagon inventory." Just operating and maintaining  these homes can exceed $100,000 annually; some homes, like those on prime waterfront real estate at D.C.'s Fort McNair, cost around $1 million to renovate.

While lifestyle costs may be colorfully wasteful, they're small potatoes compared to headquarters support costs, which GAO found had more than doubled from fiscal year 2007 ($459 million) to fiscal year 2012 ($1.06 billion).

Fortunately, there are some very simple solutions. First, as Reps. Morgan Griffith, R-Va., and Keith Ellison, D-Mich., recently proposed, Gates' Efficiency Initiatives should be fully implemented. Second, caps on the total number of general and flag officers, should be reinstated and tied to the size of the force. The top ranks shouldn't grow while the force shrinks.

With declining defense budgets, we need to trim the fat at the top, creating a leaner and more effective military. The front-line should not be sacrificed to spare the back office.
« Last Edit: February 10, 2014, 09:41:37 am by Conan71 » Logged

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« Reply #3 on: February 11, 2014, 07:32:10 pm »

There is a halfway reasonable argument for not limiting the number of flag officers. It can lead to stagnation in the ranks as the chain of promotions gets clogged up with senior people not yet ready to retire leaving no place to promote the younger people in the organization. Point being that if we do in fact cap the number of flag officers again, we should take care to make the limit higher than might be dictated by what we can justify operationally at any given point in time. Forgetting the overall organizational considerations is a large part of what has led us to have such a wasteful military, with much oversupply and duplication in some areas and extreme undersupply in others.
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« Reply #4 on: February 11, 2014, 07:43:35 pm »

The US Military spent $718,000,000,000.00 in 2013 (not counting some veterans programs which are the Federal Retirement system).  $10 Billion is really a 1.3% error rate.  For a bloated animal with that many heads, they are actually doing pretty well (ignoring the issues of audit etc.).

It is the scale that is messed up.

We spent more than
China
Russia
the UK
France
Japan
India
Saudi Arabia
Germany
Brzail
Italy
South Korea
Australia
Canada
and Turkey...

COMBINED!

As a percent of our GDP, we have not really increased our military spending.  By the trend in the rest of the world is down much steeper. Are we that inefficient, just more costly, more likely to get into a war with everyone else at the same time?

I'm not arguing we should decrease our military.  But certainly making up a majority of our discretionary budget, we do need to have the debate.  Just like raising the SS age (or other entitlement changes) are a necessary part of the discussion, military cannot be a sacred cow.  What do we NEED to be effective in the United States foreign policy goals?

The problem is, the question is both political and military.  The military always wants more.  Politicians are erratic.  So the actual analysis will probably never happen until it is panic time (either because we spent ourselves broke, or because Pearl Harbor again was bombed and we had a scant military).
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« Reply #5 on: February 12, 2014, 12:40:53 am »

There have been several highly visible times when the military has requested to NOT have a particular weapon system, and Congress rammed it down their throat anyway.  Newt Gingrich was really big on this, since he needed to keep "his" $4 + billion a year coming to Cobb County during his regime....

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« Reply #6 on: February 12, 2014, 07:46:54 pm »

There have been several highly visible times when the military has requested to NOT have a particular weapon system, and Congress rammed it down their throat anyway.  Newt Gingrich was really big on this, since he needed to keep "his" $4 + billion a year coming to Cobb County during his regime....

Funny how it's almost always the biggest whiners who are the source of the largest portion of pork.
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« Reply #7 on: February 12, 2014, 09:23:23 pm »

Funny how it's almost always the biggest whiners who are the source of the largest portion of pork.

How much did you get?  Tongue
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« Reply #8 on: February 18, 2014, 07:36:35 pm »

How much did you get?  Tongue


Newt got 4 billion a year.  Jim Inhofe got 125 million for his buddies to push lead mine tailings around with bulldozers in Picher, OK.  No clean up - just pushing mine tailings around....rather than just buying everyone out for 30 to 40 million, and saved us 80 million!!  But that wouldn't get into his buddies pockets, then would it??



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« Reply #9 on: February 18, 2014, 10:31:40 pm »

Rep. Jim Bridenstein voted against a $50 billion aid package for hurricane relief on the east coast.

Rep. Bridenstein wants a phased array weather radar system for Oklahoma. As yet, there's no price tag.
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« Reply #10 on: February 19, 2014, 12:29:54 am »

Rep. Jim Bridenstein voted against a $50 billion aid package for hurricane relief on the east coast.

I seem to remember some turd of an attachment to that aid package.
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« Reply #11 on: February 19, 2014, 12:41:24 am »

I seem to remember some turd of an attachment to that aid package.


And yet when pressed about federal relief for Oklahoma tornado victims LAST year, all the Oklahoma senators and reps were adamant that we should get it.

Hypocrisy at its finest.  I guess we deserve who we voted for.   Undecided
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« Reply #12 on: February 19, 2014, 08:33:27 am »

And yet when pressed about federal relief for Oklahoma tornado victims LAST year, all the Oklahoma senators and reps were adamant that we should get it.

Hypocrisy at its finest.  I guess we deserve who we voted for.   Undecided

I believe the no vote for NJ was not about the aid for NJ but about the attached turd.
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« Reply #13 on: February 19, 2014, 09:32:07 am »

And yet when pressed about federal relief for Oklahoma tornado victims LAST year, all the Oklahoma senators and reps were adamant that we should get it.

Hypocrisy at its finest.  I guess we deserve who we voted for.   Undecided

We trotted down this road at the time.  It was nothing more than partisan media hacks trying to make something out of nothing.  The Sandy bill contained all sorts of non-related items like road repair funding for the Virgin Islands and other expenditures for items not even close to the hurricane zone.

Tell me this isn’t inflammatory BS

Quote
How's this for chutzpah. Both U.S. senators from Oklahoma, Sen. James Inhofe and Sen. Tom Coburn in January voted against the supplemental appropriations bill to the FEMA disaster relief fund that was targeted to provide relief for the victims of Hurricane Sandy that tore into New York and New Jersey.

Inhofe called the Sandy appropriations bill a "slush fund" because it included infrastructure spending and funds for projects aimed at future disasters beyond Sandy.

Coburn voted against the Sandy relief fund because it wasn't offset by budget savings elsewhere.

Now comes the monster tornado that ripped through Moore, Oklahoma on Monday killing some 20 children and adults, leveling homes, an elementary school and other buildings with 200 mile an hour winds and Coburn said in a statement, "As a ranking member of the Senate committee that oversees FEMA, I can assure Oklahomans that any and all available aid will be delivered without delay".

As for Inhofe he "vowed" that the Moore Tornado victims wouldn't abuse federal aid as he said occurred in the aftermath of Sandy, (as if the victims of Sandy in New York and New Jersey weren't deserving of relief [as now Oklahomans will be] in the aftermath of the Moore Tornado).

Let's face it; these two yahoos are only concerned when disaster strikes their constituents and to hell with the victims beyond Oklahoma.

It's as if there are two Americas, "our good people in Oklahoma who are deserving of relief aid while those "Yankees" up north are just profligate moochers looking to abuse relief effort funds and certainly aren't deserving of relief.

http://www.opednews.com/articles/Hypocrisy-from-Oklahoma-Se-by-Dave-Lefcourt-130522-702.html

There is also a difference between a dumpster load of special spending and asking for aid from previously established funds.  Coburn correctly noted that even though total damage estimates were in the range of $2 billion, a large portion of that were insured losses which would be paid for by insurance companies with the actual need from the feds for the under-insured and infrastructure in the range of $200 to $300 million.  In other words no need for a special bill with a bunch of un-related projects in California or “future mitigation” projects for Del Rio, Texas.

Quote
Tom Coburn: Tornado Relief Bill Unnecessary, 'Washington Creating A Crisis' To 'Advantage Themselves'

WASHINGTON -- Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) fired back Thursday at those who have criticized him for demanding that any disaster aid package for Oklahoma tornado victims include offsets, or matching spending cuts elsewhere in the budget. The money is already available to help his constituents, Coburn argued, suggesting that lawmakers only want to pass an unpaid-for disaster aid package so they can tuck other unrelated items in it to benefit their home states.

"It's just typical Washington B.S.," Coburn said during an interview on MSNBC's "Morning Joe." "There's $11.6 billion sitting in a bank account waiting to help people in Oklahoma ... It's a crass political game because I was being asked these questions before we even pulled the dead people out of the rubble."

Coburn, one of the most fiscally conservative lawmakers in Congress, is right about $11.6 billion being available. But it's not because he had anything to do with it. Congress approved $18.5 billion for disaster relief for 2013, with most of those funds -- $11.5 billion -- approved after Hurricane Sandy. Coburn vocally opposed both packages, but lawmakers decided then none of that emergency aid should be subject to offsets. The amount of money left in that fund is at about $11.6 billion, which means it can be pulled to respond to the Oklahoma storm -- without offsets.

Coburn then went on in the MSNBC interview to suggest that "most of the property damage" from the tornadoes was "insured." The senator claimed it would "be a 200, 250, maybe 300 million dollar cost to the federal government out of the FEMA fund" and accused Washington of "creating a crisis when none exists so they can advantage themselves."

The tornado that struck Moore, Okla., this week, killing at least 24, is estimated to have left more than $2 billion of damage in its path.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/05/23/tom-coburn-tornado-relief_n_3324948.html
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« Reply #14 on: February 19, 2014, 09:38:20 am »

We trotted down this road at the time.  It was nothing more than partisan media hacks trying to make something out of nothing.  The Sandy bill contained all sorts of non-related items like road repair funding for the Virgin Islands and other expenditures for items not even close to the hurricane zone.

Tell me this isn’t inflammatory BS

There is also a difference between a dumpster load of special spending and asking for aid from previously established funds.  Coburn correctly noted that even though total damage estimates were in the range of $2 billion, a large portion of that were insured losses which would be paid for by insurance companies with the actual need from the feds for the under-insured and infrastructure in the range of $200 to $300 million.  In other words no need for a special bill with a bunch of un-related projects in California or “future mitigation” projects for Del Rio, Texas.


My point is that it goes to the NIMBY thought processes of those in Congress.  If it didn't happen in my back yard, tough smile.  People make it sound like democrats spend more than republicans.  At least republicans would like people to think that.  How about that Iraq war that miraculously got kept off the books?
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