CAGW Applauds New Coburn Report, Supports Cutting Defense Waste

For Immediate Release
November 15, 2012


Contact:  Leslie K. Paige 202-467-5334 Luke Gelber 202-467-5318

CAGW Applauds New Coburn Report, Supports Cutting Defense Waste

(Washington, D.C.) – Citizens Against Government Waste (CAGW) today applauded Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) on the release of his latest waste report, The Department of Everything, which could save tax payers $67.9 billion over ten years by eliminating or transferring to other departments non-essential, often ludicrous expenditures within the Department of Defense (DOD). Much of what Dr. Coburn uncovered doesn’t fall under the Pentagon’s mission, could be done by the private sector or other federal departments, and could be cut without negatively impacting our national security.

The report, a year and a half in the making, identifies five areas of the DOD’s budget that have nothing to do with protecting the country where significant saving should be achieved: non-military research and development, such as breast and prostate cancer research, which could be transferred to the National Institutes of Health; education, which includes military-run schools on dozens of military bases that duplicate the work of the Department of Education and cost $50,000 per child; alternative energy programs; military-run grocery stores; and overhead, support, and supply services, which is by far the area where the most savings could be achieved.

“Dr. Coburn and his industrious staff have once again done an exceptional job on behalf of taxpayers by exposing tens of billions in wasteful spending within the DOD, spending that could be transferred or eliminated altogether without damaging our warfighters’ capabilities or compromising the security of our nation,” said CAGW President Tom Schatz. “As we race toward the so-called fiscal cliff and contemplate where and how to cut the out-of-control spending across all departments, Dr. Coburn has correctly placed defense spending on the table with everything else. As Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Mike Mullen has stated, the biggest threat to our national security is our $16.2 trillion and rising national debt. And, in the recent election, 51 percent of voters indicated that the federal government is doing too many things better left to businesses and the individuals. By comparison, 43 percent said government should do more. That is a reversal from 2008, when 51 percent said the government should do more and 43 percent said it is doing too much,” concluded Schatz.

At his press conference today, Dr. Coburn faulted Congress for abdicating its oversight role, noting that the DOD has never been successfully audited, which makes it very difficult to know how and where to find savings without damaging national security. The report focuses on some of the Pentagon’s most egregious wasteful spending items, and doesn’t even address the systemic and bigger-ticket procurement problems or the elimination of some weapons systems altogether. Among the most noteworthy areas of potential savings contained in Sen. Coburn’s report are the 254 military-operated, on-post grocery stores for military personnel. In existence since 1825, these commissaries may have been necessary before the proliferation of grocery stores and other retail operations around most military communities across the nation. The stores received $1.2 billion in Pentagon funding in 2012, at a time when “the Army spent less than $700 million on assault rifles, carbine rifles, sniper rifles, grenade launchers, light and heavy machine guns, and shotguns combined…”

Dr. Coburn also targets medical research. For example, the DOD spends billions on funding breast cancer research, much of it duplicated by work already being done at the National Institutes of Health (NIH). The funding stream was originally initiated through the earmarking process by the late senator and profligate pork-barrel spender Ted Stevens (R-Alaska), who later came to regret the decision. Dr. Coburn favors reviewing the medical research funding and transferring much of it to the NIH.

Citizens Against Government Waste is a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization dedicated to eliminating waste, fraud, mismanagement and abuse in government.

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