Policy Letter

Letter to Members of Congress on Defense Budget

Attn: Defense LA

Dear Member of Congress,

We believe it is inappropriate to increase the defense budget when the Pentagon is unable to pass a financial audit or account for billions of taxpayer dollars. They should not be rewarded for this incompetence. Some voices sharing our concerns have said:

  • "Ramping up the Pentagon budget when the books are a mess is highly questionable at best. To some it might seem crazy." - Senator Grassley, February 13, 2001, on the Senate floor.
  • "How can we seriously consider a $50 billion increase in the Defense Department budget when DoD's own auditors...say that the department cannot account for $2.3 trillion transactions in one year alone." (emphasis added) - Senator Byrd, January Senate confirmation hearing of Defense Secretary nominee Donald Rumsfeld.
  • "The Pentagon's books are in such utter disarray that no one knows what America's military actually owns or spends." - Retired Navy Vice Admiral Jack Shanahan and Pentagon analyst Franklin Spinney stated in a December 29, 2000 Los Angeles Times op-ed.

Year after year, the Pentagon advocates for huge budgets to fund major weapons that will far exceed all budgets when it comes time for production. In 2000, Congress appropriated $53 billion for military procurement only to be told by the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) that the actual cost would be $90 billion, a $37 billion discrepancy. The Pentagon is like Congress' teenager who maxes out their credit card. Unfortunately, as punishment Congress continually increases the Pentagon's credit limit. The Congress needs to start holding the Pentagon accountable.

For example, the F-22 was widely reported to be $9 billion over budget in December. Yet, Congress provided $353 million in "bridge money" and the Air Force pledged an additional $475 million to the over budget contractors for "cost saving" measures. The government's message to the Pentagon and defense contractors is, "Waste money and we'll give you more."

Congress is already considering a $6.7 billion "emergency" supplemental bill for the Department of Defense (H.R. 576.) Congress should put the brakes on giving the Pentagon any additional funding until irresponsible spending practices are under control.


Danielle Brian Jill Lancelot
Executive Director Legislative Director
Project on Government Oversight Taxpayers for Common Sense