The Defense and the Homeland Security departments could save almost $5 billion by following through on management fixes recommended by their inspectors general, according to testimony at a Tuesday congressional hearing.
Although DoD has addressed the vast majority of IG recommendations during the last decade, the potential benefits from those still pending add up to $3.5 billion, acting Inspector General Lynne Halbrooks told the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee.
Of that sum, more than two-thirds stem from findings last September that the Pentagon could scale back purchases for a missile defense system. While management agreed with the conclusions, Halbrooks said in prepared testimony that her office is following up to see what actions are taken. Another area of concern, she said, relates to spare parts buys.
Under an approach known as “performance-based logistics,” the military services have purchased parts from contractors at “extraordinarily higher unit prices” than they would pay for something comparable from the Defense Logistics Agency, Halbrooks said. In one instance flagged in a 2011 report, Boeing charged the Army almost $1,700 for a Chinook helicopter part available from DLA for about $8.00. Overall, the IG highlighted about $423 million in potential savings through improvements to purchasing and inventory management. Of 124 follow-up recommendations, 56 are still pending, Halbrooks said.
At DHS, Acting Inspector General Charles Edwards pegged possible savings from still-pending IG recommendations at $1.2 billion. Last year, for example, Edwards’ office found that the Federal Emergency Management Agency had closed out only 6 percent of its public assistance projects funded in Louisiana following Hurricane Katrina in 2005.
As a result, large amounts of unspent federal money may be tied up that could be put to better use, Edwards said. Other pending recommendations involve Customs and Border Protection’s purchases of drone aircraft and DHS’s failure to establish a widely used common radio channel.