Some people might be willing to overlook a certain amount of this, and say that as long as the government’s job gets done, a little corruption shouldn’t worry anyone. But it’s not just a little corruption. And it grows without bound. How do I know? Because I’ve been a party to it.
Around this time every year (as the beginning of the DOD’s fiscal year Oct 1 approaches) military commands all around the world begin to review their budgets and start to draft budgets for the coming year. Much like any other government agency, if you do not do an adequate job of justifying your own existence, by spending your previous year’s budget in its entirety, you aren’t likely to receive the same amount (or an increase) the following year. So August and September are the months when the military goes shopping!
In 1988, I was a corporal in the United States Marine Corps, and in that year I personally oversaw my command’s computer budget. I was asked to spend something close to $10,000 by ordering items from various GSA catalogs, or from commercial vendors. Some of the items I purchased were needed, some were even useful, but many of things we ended up buying that year sat on a shelf in our storage lockers until I was discharged years later. I was also made aware of leftover training budget that was spent to replace the carpeting our building — carpeting that was only a year old.
If waste, fraud, and abuse are going on at that level at one small Marine command, imagine the amount of graft when you multiply that by thousands of military installations. Then couple that with the knowledge from the story above that much of this “surplus” is then being sold at pennies on the dollar, and the sheer amount of waste is staggering. Like I said, it’s an art, and the DOD has some talented artists.