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Project on Government Oversight
ben freeman

Ben Freeman, Ph. D.

Investigator

Year Started At POGO: 2011

Areas of Expertise: Military contracting, foreign lobbying, Star Creep (i.e. rank inflation in the military), military procurement, military whistleblowers.

Freeman specializes in Department of Defense personnel issues, weapons procurement, and the impact of lobbying by foreign governments on U.S. Foreign policy. Additionally, he has utilized his expertise testifying before the Senate and as an instructor in the School of Security and Global Studies at American Military University, where he teaches research methods and analytics.

Prior to joining POGO, Freeman earned a Ph.D. in political science from Texas A&M University, where he was also an instructor in the Political Science Department and the Bush School of Government and Public Service. He recently completed a book on lobbying by foreign governments in the U.S. titled The Foreign Policy Auction, which is scheduled for release this spring. His work has appeared in the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Huffington Post, on National Public Radio, and in numerous other media outlets.

POGO highlights:

  • Testified before the Senate Armed Services Subcommittee on Personnel on Star Creep – the rising proportion of Generals and Admirals in the U.S. military.

  • Spearheaded POGOs Propaganda Project Database, which this Spring will release more than 1,000 previously unpublished communications from lobbyists working on behalf of foreign governments.

  • Project Manager of the POGO/Taxpayers for Common Sense report “Spending Less, Spending Smarter: Recommendations for National Security Savings FY 2012 to FY 2021”



Loopholes, Filing Failures, and Lax Enforcement: How the Foreign Agents Registration Act Falls Short

December 16, 2014

The Foreign Agents Registration Act requires lobbyists working on behalf of foreign interests to disclose details about their relationships with their foreign clients, but POGO found that the law is not always obeyed and the Justice Department does not always enforce it.

POGO's Ben Freeman Talks About the LCS Problems at a CATO Institute Event

May 25, 2012

POGO's National Security Investigator Ben Freeman spoke at the CATO Institute on May 21 at the Future of the U.S. Navy SUrface Fleet event. Ben highlighted the problems with the Navy's newest ship, the Littoral Combat Ship, which POGO has been investigating for problems of cracking, corrosion and engine failures.

Spending Even Less, Spending Even Smarter: Recommendations for National Security Savings, FY 2013 to FY 2022--Deficit Reduction: $688 Billion

May 8, 2012

Americans are tightening their belts, and it’s time for the U.S. government to do the same. In light of the Budget Control Act of 2011 and the subsequent failure of the “Super Committee,” Congress is still desperately seeking ways to reduce spending. To this end, the Project On Government Oversight and Taxpayers for Common Sense have closely examined the proposed national security budget. We found nearly $700 billion in savings over the next ten years, including cuts to wasteful weapons systems as well as limits on out-of-control contract spending.

POGO Releases Navy Documents Showing Problems with the Littoral Combat Ship

April 23, 2012

POGO has obtained a number of Navy documents showing that Lockheed Martin’s USS Freedom (LCS-1, the first LCS ship) has been afflicted by flawed designs and failed equipment since being commissioned, has at least 17 known cracks, and has repeatedly been beset by engine-related failures.

Videp: A Top-Heavy Military is Costing You Money and Hurting Defense

November 30, 2011

The ratio of generals and admirals to enlisted soldiers in the U.S. military is higher than ever before. As more generals and admirals are added with less troops under them, the taxpayers are forced to foot the bill for more private jets and entourages while the military is slowed down by the added layers of bureaucracy. Read more about the top heavy military and the problem of star creep on the POGO blog.

POGO's Ben Freeman's Testimony Before the Senate Armed Services Committee Subcommittee on Personnel on "General and Flag Officer Requirements"

September 14, 2011

The increasing proportion of officers relative to enlisted personnel, as well as the tendency for higher ranking officers to do work that could be done by lower ranking officers, is known as brass creep or as officer or rank inflation. The pace of brass creep has accelerated in the 20 years since the Cold War ended, culminating in today’s unprecedented top-heavy force structure.

Rep. Coffman to Appropriators: Cut Pentagon Pork

May 1, 2013

Rep. Mike Coffman sent a letter to the House Appropriations Committee and the Defense Appropriations Subcommittee asking them to replace sequestration with "responsible reductions to the defense budget."

Veterans Affairs Announces Plan to Reduce Claims Backlog

April 19, 2013

Responding to withering criticism, the VA says veterans who have been waiting a year or more for disability benefits will be bumped to the head of the line for eligibility determinations.

Pentagon Math, Hagel, and the President’s Budget

April 12, 2013

Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel and other defense officials headed to the Hill this week to testify about the President’s Budget.

Hagel: A Secretary of Defense Reforms?

April 6, 2013

Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel seems prepared to do something about the Pentagon’s bloated budget.

Pentagon Pork Is Too Easy to Push Through Congress

February 13, 2013

It’s getting easier to find people inside Washington’s Beltway who want to cut the fat from the Pentagon budget. Scaling back military spending isn’t just for the most progressive members of Congress anymore.

The $360 Billion Gorilla in the Sequestration Debate

February 11, 2013

There’s a $360 billion gorilla in the sequestration debate – Pentagon contractors.

Wheeler’s Dogfight with the F-35

January 4, 2013

Winslow Wheeler tells NPR the F-35, or Joint Strike Fighter, is mediocre at everything and costs taxpayers far more than Lockheed Martin will admit.

Congress’s Pentagon Pork Plan

December 21, 2012

Congress is voting now on a national defense budget that forces the Pentagon and related national security agencies to pay for weapons, personnel, and programs they don’t want or need.

Contractors: The Pentagon Isn’t a Jobs Program

December 11, 2012

The bipartisan push to cut wasteful Pentagon spending during the fiscal cliff negotiations has now attracted the most unlikely of allies—some Pentagon contractors.

Star Creeps: Petraeus & the Price of the Top-Heavy Pentagon

November 21, 2012

In addition to extramarital affairs and “flirtatious e-mails,” the General Petraeus sex scandal highlighted another of the Pentagon’s dirty little secrets – generals live like billionaires, and taxpayers are footing the bill.

Coburn: Cut Wasteful Spending at the “Department of Everything”

November 15, 2012

With the fiscal cliff and sequestration looming, Senator Coburn recommends cutting Pentagon waste to reduce deficits without impacting our national security.

Spinning Sequestration Statistics

October 16, 2012

Economist Stephen Fuller has been arguing that sequestration will severely hurt the economy, but is he just spinning statistics “to support almost anything”?

Navy’s Littoral Combat Ship: “Big Bucks, Little Bang”

October 5, 2012

The Navy’s newest ship, the Littoral Combat Ship (LCS), is woefully inferior to comparable ships, according to an article written by John Sayen for Time magazine’s Battleland blog.

The Sequestration Sideshow: Jobs and Pentagon Contracting in Context

September 21, 2012

Pentagon contractors still threatening job loss in sequestration debate, despite record profits, executive pay, and backlogs.

A House of Pentagon Pork

September 13, 2012

The House will be voting on bills today that will undo sequestration, keep Pentagon spending off the table, and force the military to keep equipment it doesn’t want.

Lockheed Campaign Cash Has Flowed to Members of House Panel Probing F-22 Problems

September 13, 2012

All but one of 25 House members on a panel investigating problems with the F-22 fighter jet received contributions from employees or political action committees associated with Lockheed Martin, the company that made the aircraft.

Pentagon Contractor CEO Compensation is Second to None

August 22, 2012

A POGO analysis of executive compensation at the top five Pentagon contractors found that the average compensation package of a CEO at one of these firms was approximately $21.5 million last year, hundreds of times what the average U.S. worker, soldier or defense industry employee makes.

Off Course: Did Navy Underplay Steering Problem Before Awarding Ship Contract?

August 16, 2012

In late 2010, the future of one of the U.S. Navy’s prized new weapons systems hung in the balance. Instead of choosing between competing versions of a warship designed to operate in shallow coastal waters, the Navy wanted Congress’s blessing to buy both of them – one by Lockheed Martin and another by General Dynamics.

Defense Contractor Time Machine: Less Spending, More Jobs, Analysis Reveals

August 6, 2012

For nearly a year, defense contractors have been arguing that potential cuts in Pentagon spending could have a devastating effect on jobs.

Ex Lockheed Lobbyist Now in Key Defense Oversight Role

July 26, 2012

A former executive and lobbyist for defense contractor Lockheed Martin has been appointed to one of the most powerful posts on Capitol Hill overseeing the defense industry.

The Guerilla Warfare of Pentagon Contractors

June 21, 2012

Defense contractors, in their relentless campaign to avoid reductions in Pentagon spending and, consequently, the hundreds of billions of taxpayer dollars they receive every year, have started taking hostages—their own employees.

Littoral Combat Ship Gets Speiered

May 10, 2012

An amendment requiring the Government Accountability Office (GAO) to conduct a review of the Littoral Combat Ship (LCS) program passed during the House Armed Services Committee (HASC) markup of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) yesterday.

Members of Congress Oppose Using Budget Gimmicks to Fund the Pentagon

March 19, 2012

Overseas contingency operations (OCO) funds, which have been used to pay for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, should only be used to fund emergency military operations, according to a recent letter from six Republican Representatives to the House Appropriations Committee.

Gingrich Advisor's Ties to Foreign Interests

March 2, 2012

An investigation by POGO has found that one of Newt Gingrich's advisers, Robert McFarlane, covertly lobbied for interests in southern Sudan and reportedly on behalf of the Sudanese government—without properly disclosing his activities to the U.S. government.

The Hidden Costs of Star Creep: Generals Making More in Retirement Than In Service

February 8, 2012

The cost of our nation's top-heavy military--which now features a historically large proportion of generals and admirals, a trend called Star Creep--doesn't end when these top officers retire. Indeed, top generals and admirals can make even more in retirement than they do on active duty, as USA Today’s Tom Vanden Brook revealed last week.

Today's Military: The Most Top-Heavy Force in U.S. History

November 29, 2011

After Thanksgiving, waistlines aren't the only things that are bloated--the Pentagon's top ranks are fattening at an alarming rate.

Close-to-Shore Ship: Far Off Budget

June 7, 2011

Contractor low-balling and misplaced confidence in defense procurement estimates have found another victim: the Littoral (close to shore) Combat Ship (LCS).