Pentagon Waste Fact Sheet FY2019


Last Updated on January 11, 2021.

Pentagon Spending, Waste, & H.R.6157, Fiscal Year 2019 Department of Defense Appropriations Act

Win Without War urges a NO vote on H.R. 6157The Pentagon’s spending problem is out of control and hurts our national security. With mounting evidence of waste and unaccountable spending, Congress should create more accountability mechanisms – including withholding funding, particularly until the audit is complete – to ensure money appropriated to the Pentagon will be spent efficiently and in ways that serve our national security.
  • H.R. 6157, the FY19 Department of Defense Appropriations Act, provides $674.6 billion for the Pentagon, nuclear weapons, and war, an increase of $20 billion over the FY18 enacted level.
    • This includes $68.1 billion for Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO) – an unaccountable slush fund used to continue funding illegal wars and overseas military operations that are counterproductive to our national security.
    • If OCO were a federal agency, it would be the fourth largest, behind the Departments of Defense, Veterans Affairs, and Health and Human Services.
  • Although H.R.6157 adheres to H.R. 1892, the Bipartisan Budget Act for FY18 and FY19, the Pentagon budget levels under that deal are egregiously high, especially given that the Pentagon cannot pass an audit and mounting evidence of waste, fraud, and abuse.
  • With over half of discretionary spending going to the Pentagon, it’s no surprise that Americans are told that we cannot afford safety net spending on health care, higher education, affordable housing, childcare, and good jobs.
  • Meanwhile, the American people don’t want higher Pentagon spending. In February 2018, a Gallup poll found that 65 percent of Americans believe the United States should not spend more money on defense and over a third believe we already spend too much.
  • Almost half of the Pentagon’s annual budget goes to defense corporations and the CEOs of the top five defense contractors in the U.S. earned a cumulative of $96 million in compensation last year. Lockheed Martin receives an estimated 90% of its revenues from the federal government.
    • These companies spend tens of millions of dollars on campaign contributions and lobbying for weapons, like the F-35, that are often of little value for national defense.
  • The FY19 DoD appropriations bill includes 16 F-35s above the DoD’s request, added by defense appropriations chairwoman, Kay Granger. Lockheed’s F-35 assembly plant is in Granger’s Texas district.
  • Even Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Paul Selva believes that Congress should not be throwing more money at the Pentagon to address our security challenges around the world. As he recently said: “With an almost $700 billion budget, if we can’t find the money to do this right, then we’re not actually being strategists. We’re tactically reacting to a competitor’s activity.”
  • Even before this Pentagon spending spree, the defense spending levels were already at historic highs. Any concern about “readiness” ignores the underlying issue that the Pentagon is being overused to fight illegal and nonstrategic wars of choice.
    • As Lt. Col. Danny Davis (ret.) wrote recently, “Papering over the real challenges at the DoD with hundreds of billions of dollars — without solving the core problems — will not improve military readiness. Increasing the national debt to dramatically increase the Pentagon budget will therefore not necessarily make the nation safer — but it will compound the country’s future financial problems.”
  • Despite possessing more than $2.2 trillion in assets and eating up well over half of federal discretionary spending, the Defense Department has never been audited until this year.
  • Examples of the Pentagon’s wasteful spending abound:
    • The Pentagon overspent $16 million on electronic breast pumps.
    • The U.S. Air Force’s Assistant Secretary Will Roper reportedly claimed that the Pentagon is spending $10,000 on toilet seat covers for C-17 cargo planes.
    • A Pentagon-commissioned study found $125 billion in bureaucratic waste over five years.
    • The Pentagon awarded a $7 million cloud-computing contract to a 1-person company.
    • The Defense Logistics Agency lost track of $800 million in construction projects.
    • Guantanamo Bay cost $454 million in 2013, averaging $11 million per prisoner, compared to annual costs of $78,000 per prisoner at the most expensive federal prison.
  • The United States already spends more on defense than the next ten nations combined (Source: IISS). This out of control spending threatens to undermine our economic stability as a nation and does not make us safer.

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February 28, 2019