Skip to main content

Common Dreams. Journalism funded by people, not corporations.

There has never been—and never will be—an advertisement on our site except for this one: without readers like you supporting our work, we wouldn't exist.

No corporate influence. No pay-wall. Independent news and opinion 365 days a year that is freely available to all and funded by those who support our mission: To inform. To inspire. To ignite change for the common good.

Our mission is clear. Our model is simple. If you can, please support our Fall Campaign today.

Support Our Work -- No corporate influence. No pay-wall. Independent news funded by those who support our mission: To inform. To inspire. To ignite change for the common good. Please support our Fall Campaign today.

Bernie Sanders

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) speaks during a press conference outside the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C. on June 24, 2019. (Photo: Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images)

Sanders Denounces a Pentagon Budget System Found 'Inherently Susceptible to Fraud'

"They don't seem to want to get serious about spending taxpayer dollars wisely and effectively," said the Vermont senator, declaring it "absolutely unacceptable."

Andrea Germanos

Sen. Bernie Sanders said Monday that a new congressional watchdog report showing the Pentagon failing in efforts to combat department-wide fraud and waste revealed an "absolutely unacceptable" situation that merits true accountability.

Budget Committee chair Sanders (I-Vt.), along with House Oversight Committee chair Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.), had requested the Government Accountability Office (GAO) report, which was made public Monday.

The report covered fiscal year 2020, when the Defense Department (DOD) "obligated approximately $422 billion on contracts."

"The scope and scale of this activity," the report found, "makes DOD procurement inherently susceptible to fraud."

GAO also noted that it "has long reported that DOD's procurement processes are vulnerable to waste, fraud, and abuse," and referenced 2018, when the Defense Department "reported to Congress that from fiscal years 2013- 2017, over $6.6 billion had been recovered from defense-contracting fraud cases." The report also noted that in 2020, about one out of five of the Pentagon's inspector general's ongoing investigations were related to procurement fraud.

Auditors found a number of shortcomings the Pentagon has in tackling fraud risks, which can include contractors billing for work not completed or disguising conflicts of interests.

A year after the formation of the Pentagon's Fraud Reduction Task Force, for example, 11 of the department's 59 organizations, including the Army, hadn't designated a representative to that body. Also problematic is that the department "policy governing the risk management program does not specifically require fraud risk assessments," and as such, "DOD may not be identifying all fraud risks, and its control activities may not be appropriately designed or implemented."

The department's overall fraud risk profile may also be inaccurate as a result of not all component organizations reporting their individual procurement fraud risks.

"Given the billions of dollars DOD spends annually on procurement," the report stated, "failing to manage and mitigate fraud effectively may ultimately adversely affect DOD’s ability to support the warfighter."

A statement from Sanders and Maloney pointed to the assessment of the Pentagon's lackluster efforts as particularly egregious in light of defense contracts regularly "worth hundreds of billions of dollars."

"The Pentagon doesn’t seem to want to get serious about combating the fraud, waste, and financial mismanagement that has been its legacy for decades," said Sanders. "They don't seem to want to get serious about spending taxpayer dollars wisely and effectively. Well, I think we can all agree, that is absolutely unacceptable."

"Currently," added Sanders, "the U.S. spends more on our nation’s military than the next 13 countries combined. Meanwhile, half of our people are living paycheck to paycheck, just under 40 million Americans are living in poverty, and over 600,000 Americans are homeless including roughly 40,000 veterans. The time is long overdue for the Defense Department to be held to the same level of accountability as the rest of the government."

Maloney, in her statement Monday, similarly pointed to "this failure to safeguard taxpayer dollars" as "completely unacceptable."

She urged the Biden administration to act on the report's recommendations to ensure the Pentagon stops putting money into "fraudulent contracts."


Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.

This is the world we live in. This is the world we cover.

Because of people like you, another world is possible. There are many battles to be won, but we will battle them together—all of us. Common Dreams is not your normal news site. We don't survive on clicks. We don't want advertising dollars. We want the world to be a better place. But we can't do it alone. It doesn't work that way. We need you. If you can help today—because every gift of every size matters—please do. Without Your Support We Simply Don't Exist.

'Outrageous and Shameful': Dems May Cut Paid Leave Due to Manchin's Opposition

Decrying the plan, advocacy groups vowed that "the American people are not going to allow that essential human need to be ignored and negotiated away behind closed doors."

Jessica Corbett ·


Open Letter Warns Trump's 'Big Lie' GOP Poses Existential Threat to Democracy

"Now is the time for leaders in all walks of life—for citizens of all political backgrounds and persuasions—to come to the aid of the republic."

Brett Wilkins ·


Ahead of Historic House Hearing, Fresh Big Oil Misinformation Campaign Exposed

"It's always helpful to remember that big fossil fuel companies (besides being overwhelmingly responsible for carbon pollution) are also skeevy disinformation hucksters."

Jessica Corbett ·


'Very Welcome' Progress as Iran Agrees to Restart Talks on Nuclear Deal Sabotaged by Trump

One peace advocate urged all sides to reconvene negotiations "as soon as possible and with renewed urgency" to avert "disastrous" consequences for Iran and the world.

Brett Wilkins ·


House Progressives: 'When We Said These Two Bills Go Together, We Meant It'

"Moving the infrastructure bill forward without the popular Build Back Better Act risks leaving behind working people, families, and our communities."

Andrea Germanos ·

Support our work.

We are independent, non-profit, advertising-free and 100% reader supported.

Subscribe to our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values.
Direct to your inbox.

Subscribe to our Newsletter.


Common Dreams, Inc. Founded 1997. Registered 501(c3) Non-Profit | Privacy Policy
Common Dreams Logo