GAO sting uncovers big errors in DoD handling of sensitive surplus items

  • 26 July 2017
  • NormanL
GAO sting uncovers big errors in DoD handling of sensitive surplus items

Federal government waste has been a problem since the Republic's founding. Yet the goverment manages to find new, creative, and in this case potentially dangerous, ways to fritter away your tax money.

In an unusual dabble in domestic spycraft, Government Accountability Office auditors set up a fake law enforcement agency and successfully persuaded the Defense Logistics Agency to transfer to its “employees” sensitive military surplus.

GAO’s derring-do effort to test agencies’ controls against improper payments, as described in a report released July 18, included the creation--using publicly available resources--of a fictitious agency website that cited a nonexistent law justifying purchases of 100 items of DLA’s controlled property totaling $1.2 million.

These items included night-vision goggles, thermal imaging equipment, specialized printers and explosive ordnance detonation robots, as well as certain high-visibility items, such as small arms, High Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicles, Mine-Resistant Ambush Protected Vehicles and aircraft, the report said. The auditors’ phony agency also ordered and took delivery on non-controlled property medical supplies, office furniture and tents. The items ranged in value from $277 to more than $600,000.

That's shocking. But it gets much worse:

“At no point during the application process did LESO officials verbally contact officials at the agency we created—either the main point of contact listed on the application or the designated point of contact at a headquarters’ level—to verify the legitimacy of our application or to discuss establishing” memorandum of understanding with the fictional agency.

You can read the entire GAO report here.

What is horrifiy to think is that the DoD's lax security and controls may have been going on for years, allowing actual bad guys to get their hands on sensitive military surplus.

The DoD says it has already taken some corrective actions, "such as posting on its website precise definitions and an inventory of excess controlled property and writing memoranda of understanding with other agencies that make purchases."

That's fine as far as it goes. But far more needs to be done to make sure failures like this never happen again.