Pentagon’s Disposal of $15 Billion in Items Questioned

The Pentagon discarded almost $15 billion in excess parts and material from warehouses over three years, according to two senators who said the “wasteful spending” can be curbed by ordering less.

The Defense Department told leaders of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee about the warehoused equipment disposed of in fiscal years 2010 through 2012 in response to the lawmakers’ continuing investigation into military inventory practices.

“The revelation that the department disposed of” the inventory “and still has more on order is unacceptable,” Senator Tom Carper, the Delaware Democrat who heads the panel, said yesterday in a statement. “This is another example of how the department can reduce wasteful spending simply by canceling unneeded orders, using the inventory it has and freeing up funds for the critical needs of our military.”

The $15 billion from warehouses that was disclosed to Carper and Senator Tom Coburn of Oklahoma, the panel’s top Republican, is part of $27 billion in excess property the Pentagon disposed of in the same three years, Pentagon spokesman Mark Wright said in an interview.

The remaining $12 billion was items such as vehicles and larger pieces of equipment that no longer were needed but were not stored in warehouses and were held by military units or personnel, Wright said. These were provided to other federal, state and local agencies or sold to the public by government liquidators, he said.

‘Cleaning Up’

The Pentagon has about $96 billion in parts and equipment in inventory at any one time, he said.

“Much of the $15 billion of on-hand excess are parts and other things in our warehouses that we are cleaning up,” and otherwise would have remained in storage for years, Wright said.

In a letter sent March 10 to Alan Estevez, the Pentagon’s principal deputy undersecretary for acquisition, Carper and Coburn asked for details on the value and types of parts and equipment sold, scrapped or transferred to non-defense entities.

“There are billions of dollars of unnecessary inventory, including spare parts and other supplies, in military warehouses,” they said. “While some of the items may see reuse, a substantial portion of them will eventually see disposal.”

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