Attention Pentagon Shoppers

Common sense is finally being imposed on military spending by budgetary pressures

With its $640 toilet seats, vast armies of auditors, and reams of detailed specifications for bombs and devil's food cake, the Pentagon has never been labeled a smart shopper. Indeed, for a quarter-century, blue-ribbon panels have tried and failed to reform the Defense Dept.'s labyrinthine procurement process. The result: billions in extra costs for taxpayers and a bureaucratic tangle for companies that do business with the military. In one infamous case, government rules made it impossible for Motorola Inc. to supply two-way radios for Operation Desert Storm. Instead, it had to sell them to a Japanese agency, which then donated them to the U.S. military.

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