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Project on Government Oversight

Watchdog Groups Identify Nearly $700 Billion in Wasteful Spending on National Security

Related Content: Wasteful Defense Spending
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May 8, 2012

The federal government could reduce the deficit by $688 billion over the next 10 years by cutting unneeded weapons—such as variants of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter and the Navy’s Littoral Combat Ship—reining in out-of-control service contracts and slowing its investments in excess nuclear weapons, according to a report released today by the Project On Government Oversight (POGO) and Taxpayers for Common Sense.

The updated proposal would reduce the deficit by $100 billion more than was identified in the “Spending Less, Spending Smarter” plan that the groups released last summer when the budget deficit was at the center of the national discussion. These updated recommendations are timely as Congress is currently debating the defense and national security authorizations and appropriations bills.

With U.S. national security spending higher than at any point during the Cold War, and with the U.S. drawing down its presence in Iraq and Afghanistan, it’s time for Congress and the administration to bring its national security spending in line with its actual needs, the groups said.

The report released by the watchdog groups reduces the deficit by targeting expensive and strategically questionable weapons, such as two of the three variations of the F-35, and one variant of the Navy’s close-to-shore combat ship, which has been plagued with leaks, corrosion and engine failures. The report also questions the need to build 12 new nuclear submarines when eight would provide a robust deterrent.

“If Congress is serious about reducing the deficit, it can no longer treat the bloated Pentagon budget as if it were untouchable,” said POGO Executive Director Danielle Brian. “The savings we have identified not only make sense, they can be achieved with no loss to our national security.”

“Congress is contorting themselves to try to avoid the defense cuts prescribed under sequestration,” said Ryan Alexander, president of Taxpayers for Common Sense. “Instead they should embrace the defense deficit reduction. We have clearly demonstrated that there are low-hanging-fruit cuts that not only won’t harm national security, but instead make us stronger by prioritizing funding on real needs.”

The plan also singles out the expense of paying private contractors to perform tasks that federal employees could do just as effectively and at a lower cost. Reducing spending on service contracts by 15 percent could save $405 billion over the next 10 years.

The savings and revenue identified by POGO and Taxpayers for Common Sense, include:

  • $372 billion by reducing Department of Defense (DoD) service contracts by 15 percent and $33 billion by reducing spending on non-DoD national security federal service contracts by 15 percent;
  • $76.5 billion through reforms to the DoD’s TRICARE health care system;
  • $61.7 billion by replacing two of the three F-35 variants with the F/A-18 E/Fs which are less expensive and have comparable capabilities;
  • $32 billion by withdrawing 40,000 troops from Europe;
  • $23 billion by downblending more highly enriched uranium and selling it as lowenriched uranium;
  • $18.4 billion by cutting aircraft carriers from 11 to 10 and Navy wings from 10 to 9;
  • $18 billion by cutting four submarines from the next-generation fleet;
  • $17.1 billion by replacing the V-22 Osprey with less expensive, more reliable alternative helicopters;
  • $6.5 billion by canceling the uranium processing facility at the Y-12 national security complex;
  • $6.3 billion by deferring the next-generation bomber;
  • $6 billion by freezing development of unproven ground-based midcourse defense system;
  • $6 billion by canceling future satellites of the space-based infrared system;
  • $4.9 billion by halting the construction of the MOX Fuel Fabrication Facility;
  • $3.7 to $5.9 billion by eliminating the Chemistry and Metallurgy Research Replacement-Nuclear Facility at Los Alamos National Laboratory;
  • $2.1 billion by making NATO members share the burden of the B61 nuclear bombs in Europe;
  • $230 million by eliminating unrequested funding for the M1 tank, and
  • $187.2 million by canceling the Lockheed Martin variant of the Littoral Combat Ship.

Follow the link to read the full “Spending Even Less, Spending Even Smarter” proposal.

Taxpayers for Common Sense is a non-partisan budget watchdog serving as an independent voice for American taxpayers. Its mission is to achieve a government that spends taxpayer dollars responsibly and operates within its means. TCS works with individuals, policymakers, and the media to increase transparency, expose and eliminate wasteful and corrupt subsidies, earmarks, and corporate welfare, and hold decision makers accountable.

Founded in 1981, the Project On Government Oversight (POGO) is a nonpartisan independent watchdog that champions good government reforms. POGO’s investigations into corruption, misconduct, and conflicts of interest achieve a more effective, accountable, open, and ethical federal government.

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