WASHINGTON, June 10 - A Pentagon procurement agency created to streamline supplies bought billions of dollars worth of spare parts that the Defense Department ended up not needing, congressional investigators discovered.
The Government Accountability Office (GAO) found that the Defense Logistics Agency had no use for parts worth $7.1 billion, more than half of the $13.7 billion in equipment stacked in Defense Department warehouses.
The investigation was requested by Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), a Senate Budget Committee member who has closely monitored Pentagon waste and fraud. "The waste of taxpayer dollars is unbelievable," Sanders said. "At a time when the country has a $13 trillion national debt and is struggling with huge unmet needs, it is outrageous that the Defense Department continues to waste huge sums of money for spare parts that the military doesn't need."
The latest investigation by the non-partisan research arm of Congress focused a period from 2006 through 2008 at the logistics agency, which provides parts and supplies for everything from groceries to jet fuel.
The new report is the fourth in a series that uncovered similar problems in the Army, Air Force and Navy. Army parts depots were stacked with $3.6 billion worth of unneeded supplies, according to a report last year. The Navy, an earlier investigation found, warehoused an average of $7.5 billion worth of unneeded spare parts because of poor planning and management. In the Air Force, some $18.7 billion in supplies, more than half of the inventory, was not needed, another study said.
What's worse, according to the investigation, is that some sorely needed parts to support troops at war were not available when they were needed. At the Defense Logistics Agency alone, more than $700 million in spare parts that the military services requested were not in stock.
The latest GAO report found the Pentagon communicated poorly with both suppliers and the services. For example, $1.2 million in parts were ordered for the B1B, the Air Force's long-range intercontinental bomber, despite the fact that an oversupply of the same parts already were on hand. The Pentagon also was bad at predicting what the armed services need, and inaccurately estimated how long it would take the suppliers to produce and ship products.
The problem has persisted for so long and is so severe that the Department of Defense inventory system has been flagged on the GAO's "high risk" list. The list puts a spotlight on the most serious weaknesses in government programs and practices.
To view an ABC News report on the study, click here.