Sanders Leads Senate Call to Investigate Price-Gouging Military Contractors

Even because it claims to oppose wasteful spending, the GOP pushes for extra army funding in debt ceiling talks.

Sen. Bernie Sanders on Thursday led a gaggle of senators in urging the Pentagon to research value gouging by army contractors after a CBS Information probe that aired on “60 Minutes” earlier this week confirmed that personal companies are drastically overcharging the Protection Division for weaponry and different gear, leading to a whole bunch of hundreds of thousands of {dollars} in extra taxpayer spending and large earnings for the arms business.

“The six-month investigation by CBS Information, together with in depth interviews with former DOD contracting officers, uncovered large overcharges from protection contractors accounting for a whole bunch of hundreds of thousands of {dollars},” reads a letter that Sanders and 4 of his Senate colleagues — Sens. Elizabeth Warren (D-Massachusetts), Ron Wyden (D-Oregon), Mike Braun (R-Indiana), and Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) — despatched to Protection Secretary Lloyd Austin.

“As CBS reported, DOD’s fastened value contracts would usually present for personal earnings of 12-15%,” the letter continues. “Pentagon analysts discovered overcharges that boosted complete earnings to just about 40% and generally as excessive as 4,000%. Lockheed Martin, Boeing, Raytheon, and TransDigm are among the many offenders, dramatically overcharging the division and U.S. taxpayers whereas reaping monumental earnings, seeing their inventory costs soar, and handing out large government compensation packages.”

The senators additionally fault the Pentagon for staggering oversight failures, noting that the “60 Minutes” investigation “underlines longstanding considerations across the division’s incapacity to move an audit, precisely observe its funds, or mitigate in opposition to fraud threat within the a whole bunch of billions of {dollars} in contracts it awards yearly.”

In 2021, Sanders, Wyden, Grassley, and different lawmakers teamed up to introduce laws that will require the Pentagon to move a full, impartial audit. The invoice didn’t get a ground vote in both chamber of Congress.

“The DOD can now not count on Congress or the American taxpayer to underwrite report army spending whereas concurrently failing to account for the a whole bunch of billions it fingers out yearly to spectacularly worthwhile personal companies,” the letter reads. “We ask that you simply please present us an replace on the division’s efforts to implement excellent GAO suggestions associated to monetary administration and fraud threat discount, in addition to your efforts to research the value gouging uncovered by CBS‘ latest reporting.”

The senators’ letter comes because the Pentagon is requesting $842 billion for fiscal yr 2024 and as Republicans are pushing for higher military spending in debt ceiling talks with the Biden White Home, even amid recent proof of wasteful spending that they declare to oppose.

The U.S. presently spends extra on its army than over 144 countries mixed, and roughly half of the Pentagon’s annual price range leads to the coffers of personal companies which — based on a latest Protection Division-backed study — are “worthwhile” and “generate substantial quantities of money past their wants for operations or capital funding.”

William Hartung, a senior analysis fellow on the Quincy Institute for Accountable Statecraft, wrote earlier this week that the Pentagon’s systematic and persistent oversight lapses will doubtless “be exacerbated by the push to quickly increase manufacturing to cope with supplying Ukraine and stockpiling methods related to a possible battle with China.”

“Proposals to push weapons out the door extra shortly with much less scrutiny, coupled with the sheer quantity of methods being produced, will open the way in which to further value gouging,” Hartung warned.

“As spending rises and vetting decreases, the prospects for fraud, waste, and abuse will develop,” he added. “And the arms business and its allies in Congress and the Pentagon are intent on making any modifications made to cope with the Ukraine emergency everlasting, which might supersize the weapons business whereas decreasing oversight and accountability — a recipe for relentless, pointless value will increase that might proceed properly past the tip of the Ukraine warfare.”

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