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President Donald Trump has decried the “tremendous waste, fraud and abuse” in the federal government, and proclaimed “we’re going to get it.” When it comes to the Pentagon, that is going to be a tough task.
As we noted late last year, the Pentagon buried an internal study exposing $125 billion in administrative waste. The Pentagon’s purchasing bureaucracy counted 207,000 full-time workers, with 192,000 in property management and 84,000 in human-resource jobs. The Army alone employed 199,661 full-time contractors — more than the combined workforce of the Departments of State, Agriculture, Commerce, Education, Energy and Housing and Urban Development. This bulk is hardly the only example of military waste.
According to Craig Whitlock and Bob Woodward of the Washington Post, “The Pentagon has generated almost $6 billion over the past seven years by charging the armed forces excessive prices for fuel and has used the money — called the ‘bishop’s fund’ by some critics — to bolster mismanaged or underfunded military programs.” The Pentagon raked in the cash “by billing the armed forces for fuel at rates often much higher — sometimes $1 per gallon or more — than what commercial airlines paid for jet fuel on the open market.” This takes place “under a bureaucracy that dates to World War II,” but it’s not an isolated example of unaccountability.
As Paul Shinkman notes in U.S. News, the Overseas Contingency Operations Budget, once considered supplemental, “is now considered a de-facto slush fund.” Launched for operations in Iraq and Afghanistan “it accounts for the unregulated spending of $60 billion or more in taxpayer dollars per year, with no end in sight.”
As the president says, there’s tremendous waste, fraud and abuse in the federal government in general and the Pentagon in particular. He should tell those responsible, “You’re fired,” and then get to work trimming government.