Billions can be saved in Pentagon budget

Last spring, I was invited by Rep. Scott Tipton to participate in a telephone town hall meeting. I asked him if he would be willing to allow reduction of the Pentagonís budget according to the Budget Control Act (sequestration) amounting to $1 trillion over 10 years. He didnít answer yes or no, but agreed there is room for efficiency savings in the Pentagon budget. Here are some inefficiencies he might address:

Cost Overruns: According to the Government Accountability Office, the cost of the Department of Defenseís 98 major weapons systems has grown by $135 billion beyond initial estimates, just in the last two years.

Losing track of inventory: The DOD Inspector General and the GAO estimate that, at any given time, there is roughly a billion dollarsí worth of spare parts on order that the department simply doesnít need, but the Pentagonís inventory system doesnít allow change orders. This is in addition to about $5 billion worth of unneeded spare parts already in military warehouses.

Losing track of leases: The DOD incurred $720 million in late fees for failing to return shipping containers when their leases were up. The hundreds of millions in late fees were in addition to the cost of the actual leases.

Losing track of money: The Commission on Wartime Contracting reported last fall that there was an estimated $31 billion to $60 billion in DOD waste and fraud related to the Iraq and Afghanistan wars.

Poor bookkeeping: The DOD Inspector General recently released a report on the departmentís inability to recoup up to $200 million in delinquent debts owed by contractors because of poor, but basic, record keeping.

Itís estimated that correcting these problems could save the Pentagon and taxpayers about $102 billion yearly, more than the FY2011 budgets of the Departments of State, Interior, Commerce, Justice and Energy combined. In July, Tipton voted against an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act that would have required the Pentagonís budget to be sequestered.

I hope the Pentagon and Tipton practice greater fiscal responsibility this time.

Ross A. Worley

Durango

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