Spidey Sense Signals Incoming Pork | Citizens Against Government Waste
The WasteWatcher: The Staff Blog of Citizens Against Government Waste

Spidey Sense Signals Incoming Pork

The WasteWatcher is the staff blog of Citizens Against Government Waste (CAGW) and the Council for Citizens Against Government Waste (CCAGW). For questions, contact blog@cagw.org.


The United States spends approximately 3.2 percent of gross domestic product on defense each year, good for $716 billion in fiscal year 2019, a total that dwarfed spending for all other federal agencies.

Unfortunately, the Department of Defense (DOD) performs notoriously poorly when it comes to tracking spending.  The DOD remains the sole federal agency that has not undergone a clean audit under the Chief Financial Officers Act of 1990.  The books are so bad that areas within the DOD have been on the Government Accountability Office’s list of programs at high risk for waste, fraud, abuse, and mismanagement since 1995.  On November 15, 2018, Deputy Secretary of Defense Patrick Shanahan announced that the DOD whiffed on its most recent audit attempt, stating, “We failed the audit, but we never expected to pass it.”

Given this flippant attitude toward fiscal discipline, and Congress’ repeated failure to hold the Pentagon accountable, wasteful spending is certain to occur within the DOD.  It should therefore come as no surprise that on May 23, 2019, Sen. Joni Ernst (R-Iowa) awarded the Pentagon her May 2019 Squeal Award.  Highlights of the report include:

  • A $3.9 million Office of Naval Research (ONR) study investigating “Spidey Sense,” which warns Spider-Man of danger.
  • $25,000 for an Air Force study to examine the physics of teleportation, via “the instantaneous and or disembodied conveyance of objects through space…and parallel universes.”  The study proposed $7.5 million to develop the technology.
  • A $3.9 million DOD and National Science Foundation grant that examined the possibility that junk foods are more distracting than healthy foods.
  • $209,000 for an ONR grant that measured the “sociability” of 18 different breeds of dogs.

Spider-Man is probably not sensing a successful audit of the DOD anytime soon.  Members of Congress should follow Sen. Ernst’s lead in demanding more accountability at the Pentagon.

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