Our genuine national security interests and the safety of our troops and citizens should guide our defense spending. But in the four decades since POGO uncovered that the Pentagon was paying $7,600 for coffee pots and $436 for hammers, the Pentagon has continued hemorrhaging money on wasteful contracts, and taxpayers are still footing the bill. Overcharges incurred by the military in more recent years include $1,280 each for high-tech coffee cups and $71 for metal pins that should have only cost four cents apiece, with defense corporations charging the military more than 150,000% above fair and reasonable prices in certain instances.
Price-gouging the military is all too easy — and mostly perfectly legal — for defense giants, in no small part because industry lobbyists have had a hand in writing the current rules. These rules stifle competition and allow blatant profiteering. And in recent years, the defense industry’s army of lobbyists has convinced Congress to bend the rules even further in its favor. These rules waste tax dollars by design, at the expense of our troops and our military preparedness.
We expect results-driven spending on education and health care, and we should expect no less when it comes to defense. Congress must clean up the federal contracting system with reasonable reforms that ensure that our government’s spending delivers real results.
To stop the Pentagon from wasting billions of tax dollars that should be going to the military or other federal needs, Congress must:
Make it easier for the military to negotiate fair deals by requiring federal contractors to provide the military with certified cost and pricing information contracting officers need in order to know whether pricing is fair.
Compel agencies to keep a public database of contractors that refuse to disclose accurate cost and pricing information when requested.
Make refunding the Department of Defense mandatory
— not voluntary — when price-gouging is discovered.
Reject Pentagon budget increases until the Pentagon can pass a clean financial audit.