Pentagon Spends $1.6 Billion In A Single Day

David Williams

April 3, 2013

The vast majority of Americans will never spend $1.6 billion in their entire lifetime nor will most people ever see that figure in a bank account, much less spend the amount in a single day’s time.  But before you say it’s impossible to do, take a look at how the Pentagon managed to spend $1.6 billion in just a single day’s work.

Fortunately, The Fiscal Times did the number crunching for us and offered just exactly how such vast expenditures occur.  The article rightly notes that most of the attention goes to the big-ticket expenditures, including many examples, like the Medium Extended Air Defense System (MEADS) that the Taxpayers Protection Alliance has written on extensively.  So what’s particularly valuable and unique about the Times’ article is that it zeros in on some of the smaller projects.  The article notes, “But smaller projects often escape scrutiny, despite costing the Pentagon hundreds of millions of dollars. To illustrate just how the Pentagon spends money each day, The Fiscal Times picked a random day – March 4, 2013 – and reviewed what contracts the Pentagon awarded on that day. From weapons systems to prescription drugs, the daily cost of running the Pentagon added up quickly: 10 days ago, the Pentagon spent $1,614,108,656.”

The article goes on to explain how three contracts awarded in a single day alone add up to $1.6 billion dollars.  Although this amount will be distributed throughout a few years, there are other contracts that take money out of the coffers immediately.  For example, “the Pentagon gave Taylor-Dunn Manufacturing in California $633 million to provide ‘commercial type material handling equipment.’”  Lockheed received a $333 million contract for parts for the F-35.  And as if that contract were not enough, Lockheed also received a contract “to modernize F-22 plans that could be worth as much as $6.9 billion.”

But the spending doesn’t stop here, the smaller projects still need to be tallied up.  As TPA frequently reminds even relatively “small” expenditures when spread around and added together become quite sizeable amounts – or more appropriately turn into vast wastes of your tax dollars. In addition to the smaller contracts the Fiscal Times piece mentions, it also notes that “while the Pentagon is a government department, it is run like a private corporation.”  To this end, it mentions that on a daily basis the Pentagon must provide healthcare for its workers.  This includes awarding a whopping $30 million to U.S. Worldmeds for pharmaceuticals.

In some aspects, the way the Pentagon is run on daily basis may resemble a private company.  However, the similarities don’t go too far.  The biggest difference is that when a private company runs out of money, it doesn’t continue spending.  It can take out loans that it must repay, and if the company still can’t turn its fate around despite the loans, it files for bankruptcy.  One this is certain, it definitely doesn’t continue to spend on a program that’s proven to be a failure like MEADS is.

So with the continued fear-mongering that comes as the sequester cuts begin to take effect, it’s important to remember these examples as well as plenty of others.  Sleep restfully knowing that there are plenty of things and places to cut.