Some Army surplus is unlikely to be used (USA Today)

By Matt Kelley, USA TODAY

WASHINGTON — The Army had an average of $3.6 billion in excess spare parts annually during fiscal years 2004 through 2007, congressional investigators say in a report to be released Monday.

Though some of the parts may be needed over the next 10 or more years, the Army will probably never use about $900 million of the equipment it had in storage in 2007, according to the Government Accountability Office (GAO).

"This is waste, pure and simple, and it's waste that has to end," says Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., a member of the Senate Budget Committee and one of the lawmakers who requested the report.

Army spokesman Paul Boyce did not return messages seeking comment.

The report also found the Army has an average $3.5 billion annual shortfall in some types of spare parts needed as it fights in Iraq and Afghanistan. The report says Army officials told the GAO that the shortages didn't always directly affect military operations. That's because the Pentagon's definition of a shortage doesn't mean the Army has run out of necessary parts; it means the Army doesn't have as many spares in reserve that it anticipates needing.

GAO investigators were unable to verify the impact of the parts shortages, the report says.

The Army has too little of parts it needs and too much of others it doesn't largely because it doesn't set cost-efficiency goals and has problems with the computer models it uses to forecast demand for the equipment, the GAO report says.

In October, the Army directed inventory managers to update the computer models they use to forecast demand for spare parts to accurately reflect the amount of equipment used in Iraq and Afghanistan, the report says.

One example of the problems is a part used in the steering system for armored bulldozers, the report says. Fearing a shortage, the Army made an emergency purchase of the parts. Those worries were groundless, and the Army is stuck with 836 extra copies of the part worth $7.7 million, the report says.

Other excess parts included batteries for Patriot missiles, crates for shipping tank parts and tools used on UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters, the report says.

The GAO didn't include spare parts held by the Communications and Electronics Command because the Army's information technology agency couldn't track its inventory by specific items, the report says.