WASHINGTON –According to a recent report by the Government Accountability Office (GAO), the Department of Defense (DOD) spent tens of millions of dollars in unnecessary returns of surplus vehicles from Afghanistan to the United States during a one year period. Today, a bipartisan group of Senators on the Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs highlighted the report findings.
The report, Afghanistan Equipment Drawdown: Progress Made, but Improved Controls in Decision Making Could Reduce Risk of Unnecessary Expenditures (GAO-14-768), found that during a one-year period, the United States Army and Marine Corps returned more than 1,000 military surplus vehicles from Afghanistan to the United States, even though the vehicles were not determined to be needed and therefore should not have been returned. The cost of returning a vehicle to the U.S. is upwards of $100,000 per vehicle – for a total cost as high as $100 million in unnecessary shipments during the period of time examined by GAO. The vehicles in question were no longer needed by the military. The report found that if the Army and Marine Corp had followed Department of Defense proper rules and procedures, the services would have either transferred the surplus vehicles to appropriate overseas allies or scrapped the vehicles in Afghanistan, saving a significant amount of money in logistical and shipping costs.
Senator Carper, Chairman of the Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs: “This report is a troubling reminder that the Department of Defense has more work do in managing taxpayer dollars. The Government Accountability Office underscores that the DOD can and should do a much better job in preventing unnecessary costs by taking some common sense steps in managing its surplus military vehicles. We simply cannot afford this type of waste and ineffectiveness. Given the tremendous fiscal challenges our government faces, we have an obligation to look in every nook and cranny of our budgets for savings. I believe this is an area where simple yet effective improvements can be made to achieve better results for less money.”
Dr. Coburn, Ranking Member of the Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs: “Until DOD leadership gets serious about financial management and fundamentally changes the way the Department manages its business and holds itself accountable, Americans will continue to see DOD waste scarce taxpayer dollars. Despite the Department’s assurances that it is making progress and working hard to be better stewards of taxpayer dollars, we see examples like this time and again. Especially in this budgetary environment, actions matter more than empty promises.”
Senator McCaskill, Chairman of the Subcommittee on Financial and Contracting Oversight: “At a time when we’re turning over every rock to find savings for taxpayers—and while we’re engaged in a national conversation about the use of military equipment at home—this kind of waste is unacceptable. I expect military leaders to take these findings seriously and do better.”
Senator Tester, Chairman of the Subcommittee on Efficiency and Effectiveness of Federal Programs and the Federal Workforce: “This issue deserves the highest level of attention and oversight,” Tester said. “While I understand the Defense Department is operating under intense time and budget pressures, we must use common-sense when it comes to spending taxpayer dollars – especially when Americans have already paid a steep price for this conflict.”