Pentagon’s military inventory needs better housekeeping

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Owning spare and replacement parts for complex weapon systems and military equipment is essential to military preparedness, but buying, tracking and storing these parts is extremely expensive. The Pentagon is tasked with managing about 4 million different items in its military equipment inventory, valued at $91 billion.

The Department of Defense estimates it has more than $25 billion in spare parts on hand for possible future use.

Since 1990, the Government Accountability Office has been critical of the Pentagon’s supply chain, singling out “ineffective and inefficient inventory management practices and procedures, weaknesses in accurately forecasting demand for spare parts, and challenges in achieving widespread implementation of key technologies,” the report said.

The National Defense Authorization Act recently required the Department of Defense to submit a plan to Congress, identifying ways it will improve management of its inventory. The GAO analysis of the ambitious plan found several challenges.

A single delay in any part of the plan could have significant repercussions. The department is still working to automate systems to manage the inventory, but unanticipated delays or poor performance by the systems could cause additional delays.

The GAO said the Department’s plan met the basic requirements for improving its inventory management but it did identify organizational problems, including lack of oversight and failure to follow procedures.

FAST FACT: The Department of Defense held $1 billion of military spare parts for which there had been no demand for at least 8 years, incurring $2.5 million in storage costs.

Following are other new watchdog reports released by the Government Accountability Office (GAO), various federal Offices of Inspector General (OIG), and other government entities.

NATIONAL SECURITY

  • The U.S. Coast Guard improperly used about $511 million in maintenance funds to pay for under-funded shore construction and improvements from 2003—2007. Coast Guard policies and procedures inappropriately permitted the use of maintenance funds for minor shore construction. An OIG review determined that 317 violations were committed, amounting to $138 million. The Coast Guard has since instituted proper controls and changed its policies. (OIG Department of Homeland Security)

ENVIRONMENT

  • The Bannister Federal Complex in Kansas City, Mo., sits above several plumes of contaminated ground water. Concerns over hazardous vapors prompted an EPA safety review, which found the indoor chemical concentrations to be below the acceptable risk level. The review was requested due to allegations that employees have been sickened by chemical exposure, and the presence of a childcare facility in one of the federal office buildings. (OIG Environmental Protection Agency)

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