Army Wastes Billions on Unneeded Spare Parts

WASHINGTON, January 12 - Army warehouses are stacked with $3.6 billion worth of spare parts that the military does not need, according to new government report.

The supply of some parts stashed away by the Army exceeded the foreseeable demand for decades to come, an investigation by the Government Accountability Office discovered. There was "no projected demand" for a "substantial" amount of the inventory. The report said the Army probably will never use about $900 million of the equipment it had in storage in 2007.

"At a time when the country has a $10.6 trillion national debt and is struggling with huge unmet needs, it is an absolute outrage that the Army is wasting huge sums of money for spare parts that they don't need," said Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), who requested the report. "This is waste pure and simple, and it's waste that has to end."

Investigators found, for example, that the Army stocked up on a tool used on Black Hawk helicopters, but planners were wrong about demand for the choppers. The Army was unable to cancel a contract, so parts worth $7.4 million are gathering dust. In another instance, the Army was left with 836 replacement parts worth $7.7 million that were bought in a rush to keep armored earthmovers working.

Unnecessary spare parts are not only in the Army's warehouses. The GAO identified that the Army had on order an average of $120 million in parts that it did not need. In fact, about $55 million of spare parts on order but not yet delivered already are marked for disposal.

The report understates the extent of the problem because the Communications and Electronics Command, the Army agency in charge of advanced information technology development, couldn't track its inventory, the report said.

The investigation 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 is the third in the most recent series looking into long-standing problems with Pentagon waste.

The Navy, the GAO disclosed on Dec. 17, keeps an average of $7.5 billion worth of spare parts and other goods it does not need every year because of poor planning and management. In the Air Force, the GAO calculated, more than half of the inventory, with a total average value of $18.7 billion was not needed to support service requirements.

The GAO, the non-partisan investigative arm of Congress, for years has flagged the Department of Defense inventory system on its "high risk" list.

To read the latest report on the Army, click here.