Last week, lawmakers heard about a new Pentagon purchasing system supposedly designed to save money. Thanks to such "cost-efficiency," the Defense Department paid $76 for an aircraft screw previously priced at 57 cents, and $714 for an electrical bell that had sold for $47.

Audits conducted by the Pentagon inspector general examined spare-parts contracts with the Seattle-based Boeing Co. and Sundstrand Corp. of Rockford, Ill. The audits didn't find any illegal activity by either firm. But the inspector general says the problem was caused by Pentagon errors.

"Department of Defense procurement approaches were poorly conceived, badly coordinated, and did not result in the government's getting good value for the prices paid both for commercial and noncommercial items," Inspector General Eleanor Hill told a hearing of the Senate Armed Services Acquisition Subcommittee, March 18. The chairman of the subcommittee, Sen. Rick Santorum, R-Pa., contended that: "There's nothing illegal going on here, but there's something wrong going on here."

Santorum is right. And that's why he should encourage other Capitol Hill politicos to take a closer look at defense expenditures.

Too many congressional conservatives dream up too many new ways of throwing more money at the Defense Department. It's time they told the Pentagon to stop wasting the money it's already received.

Copyright 1997

The Caledonian-Record

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