Rebecca Kheel / The Hill – 2016-12-20 21:22:55
McCain Slams $13 Billion in Pentagon Spending in Latest Waste Report
Rebecca Kheel / The Hill
(December 19, 2016) â€“ Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) is blasting what he says is more than $13 billion of waste at the Pentagon, $12 billion of which was for 26 Littoral Combat Ships with “no proven combat capability.”
“As our Armed Forces confront the most diverse and complex array of national security challenges since the end of World War II under extraordinarily constrained fiscal resources, we simply cannot afford to waste our precious defense dollars on unnecessary or poorly performing programs,” McCain, chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, said in a statement Monday.
The Pentagon expenses are outlined in the latest of McCain’s “America’s Most Wasted” reports and also include $458 million in improper travel reimbursements, $375 million for unused or faulty Missile Defense Agency targets and $1 million for unauthorized expenses at strip clubs and casinos.
At the top of the report’s targets is the Littoral Combat Ship (LCS), which the report calls “an unfortunate and classic example of acquisition gone awry.”
When first proposed, the LCS program was expected to cost $220 million per ship and to deliver its first combat capability in mine countermeasures in 2008.
But the LCS program has more than doubled to $478 million per ship, and the mine countermeasures capability is now not expected to be operational until 2020, according to the report.
The costs stabilized in 2010 and the Pentagon has proposed curtailing the program to 40 ships, but the ships continue to experience engineering failures, the report adds.
“Amazingly, despite nearly no proven LCS combat capability and persistent debilitating engineering issues, the Navy is charging ahead with an ambitious plan that keeps most ships deployed more than half the time, stationed around the world far from support facilities in the United States,” the report says.
“The LCS continues to experience new problems, but it is not a new program,” the report adds. “That is why the Navy must not delay in reconciling their aspirations for the LCS with the program’s troubled reality.”
The report also slams $458 million in fiscal year 2014 that was improperly paid because officials approved reimbursements for airfare, hotels and rental cars without receipts, incomplete vouchers or vouchers with amounts that did not match the receipt.
In addition to those expenses, the report faults the Pentagon for $1 million charged to work credit cards by department personnel at strip clubs and casinos, at least some of which may have been reimbursed.
“Until DOD holds personnel at all levels accountable — including management responsible for overseeing the program and approving the transactions for reimbursement — its travel card program and millions of taxpayer dollars will remain vulnerable to abuse and a focus of further Congressional oversight,” the report says.
The report also calls out $375 million the Missile Defense Agency spent to develop test targets that simulate enemy missiles while testing the Ballistic Missile Defense System. The agency only received two targets, and the one that was tested failed, according to the report. The program has since been scrapped.
The report also blasts the Navy for spending $58.6 million to invest in alternative energy for its Great Green Fleet. While the Pentagon’s large fuel consumption make looking at alternative energy “prudent,” the report says, the Navy’s efforts “have given way to dogma” as the alternative fuel has cost more than petroleum.
Other expenses slammed by the report include $12.3 million for defective spare aviation parts, $150 million for shipbuilders to fix defects that were their own mistakes, $352 million on graduate degrees for people with no further obligation to the Pentagon and $48 million on satellite communications that the report says could be purchased for cheaper if the Pentagon planned better.
Finally, the report slams the Pentagon for spending $1.3 million to study the mating habits of African giant pouched rats, which some research has indicated may be good at detecting mines.
“While the pursuit of enhanced mine detection is an important goal,” the report says, “it is unacceptable in light of current budget constraints that limited defense resources are being used to conduct genetic sequencing, cross breeding, and behavior analysis on large rodents, especially when they do not demonstrate a substantially greater capability than the dogs we already have.”
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