For Immediate Release

May 8, 2014

 

Contact:

DC – Bill Silverfarb (202) 225-3531 / (202) 957-4340 cell

Bill.Silverfarb@mail.house.gov

 

CA – Katrina Rill (650) 342-0300 / (650) 208-7441 cell

Katrina.Rill@mail.house.gov

 

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Congresswoman Jackie Speier (D-San Francisco/San Mateo/Redwood City) made the following statement after several amendments were approved by the House Armed Services Committee for the National Defense Authorization Act of FY2015. Her amendments target wasteful military spending, limits concurrency in the U.S. Navy’s Littoral Combat Ship (LCS) by tying funding to testing and performance milestones, review the Department of Defense’s revolving door practices and extend reforms for federal whistleblowers.

 

“The American people are sick of seeing the Pentagon treat their taxpayer dollars as a slush fund. It’s inexcusable that the Pentagon pays excessive prices for spare parts, can’t account for its ammunition inventory, and goes into production for weapon systems before testing is complete,” said Congresswoman Speier. “My amendments will help safeguard taxpayer investments in national defense by stemming waste and self-dealing.”

 

AMENDMENTS INCLUDED IN NDAA NOT RELATED TO SEXUAL ASSAULT

Limit Funds for new Littoral Combat Ships

This amendment makes funding for any Littoral Combat Ships beyond the current contract contingent upon the Director of Operational Testing and Evaluation certifying that the test evaluation plan demonstrates operational effectiveness and operational suitability for the seaframes and mission modules. The Joint Requirements Oversight Council will certify the current requirements support operational needs, and an assessment of the survivability of the LCS.

 

Limits funds on LCS mission modules

This amendment limits the funds for mission modules until the Navy submits to the committee milestone goals for cost, schedule, and performance. The Director of Operational Testing and Evaluation will certify the number of modules necessary to support operational testing.

 

On these two amendments Congresswoman Speier said:

“Taxpayer money shouldn’t go toward technology that is unproven on a ship known to crack and corrode. The Navy needs to put the brakes on the spending until the LCS meets its required milestones and operational testing is completed. Taxpayers have already invested billions for the development of this ship and they should know it was a wise investment before they are on the hook for another $475 million on the next LCS the Navy builds.”

 

All-circuit review for civilian whistleblowers

This amendment incorporates Rep. Elijah Cummings’s bill HR 4197, the All Circuit Review Extension Act, and extends a key pilot program of the Whistleblower Protection Enhancement Act (WPEA) that allows whistleblowers to appeal cases from the Merit Systems Protection Board (MSPB) to any circuit court of appeals with jurisdiction.

 

On this amendment Congresswoman Speier said:

“The Federal Circuit has become increasingly restrictive of whistleblower rights in its decisions over the years. Having multiple circuits hear appeals allows courts to engage in peer review when decisions conflict through reconsideration or resolution by the Supreme Court in the event of an unresolved dispute.”

 

Ammunition Waste 

This amendment would adopt the U.S. Government Accountability Office’s recommendations to require an authoritative source of data on conventional ammunition across the Department of Defense. It will require the Army to report annually on information on all available ammunition for use during the redistribution process -- including ammunition that in a previous year was unclaimed by another service and categorized for disposal.

 

On this amendment Congresswoman Speier said:

“The possibility that $1 billion worth of good ammunition might be destroyed even when those bullets and missiles can be used to protect our troops sounds like a colossal waste and another taxpayer rip-off.”

 

Revolving Door

This amendment requires the Department of Defense to designate someone to ensure compliance on the issue of tracking former employees who find work for defense contractors, and report to the defense committees in 180 days on what steps have been taken to ensure compliance.

 

On this amendment Congresswoman Speier said:

“The IG found the revolving door database required by law was so incomplete it can’t even receive a failing grade. I am disturbed the Pentagon has willfully violated the law and thumbed its nose to Congressional intent to protect the integrity of our defense procurement system. The Pentagon will have 180 days to put someone in charge to report to Congress and ensure compliance or this database will have to be made public next year.”

 

Survey on Service Member Preferences Regarding Military Pay and Benefits

This amendment would require a random survey of service members to assess what benefits are most valued by service members and their families.

 

On this amendment Congresswoman Speier said:

“The costs of military personnel and operations and maintenance will consume 86% of the budget by 2021, and that the costs of military personnel alone will consume the entire defense budget by 2039. But any plan for reform must be based on data about what service members value most. Preliminary surveys of personnel have shown that many of our assumptions about what personnel value most may be wrong. Increasing basic pay for junior enlisted has more than 6 times the impact than a dollar spent increasing basic pay for senior officers, and that service members do not value TRICARE for Life commensurate with what it costs the Department. We owe our military and taxpayers a sustainable benefit system that balances our gratitude for their service with the government’s fiscal realities.”

 

Alzheimer’s research

This amendment authorizes the Department of Defense to research Alzheimer’s disease. Service members with Traumatic Brain Injuries may have an increased risk of developing Alzheimer’s or another form of dementia years after the injury takes place. The Alzheimer’s Association has found that Traumatic Brain Injuries may increase the risk of developing Alzheimer’s or another form of dementia years after the injury takes place.

 

On this amendment Congresswoman Speier said:

“It is critical we understand the relationship between Traumatic Brain Injuries and Alzheimer’s because it is the most expensive disease to treat in America. It is estimated that one in eight Baby Boomers will develop the disease which will cause Medicare and Medicaid costs to soar from about $140 billion today to $800 billion by 2050. DOD research could spare millions of Americans from going bankrupt as well as our health care system.”

 

Spare parts review

This amendment authorizes the Department of Defense Inspector General to review spare parts costs. The DOD has an estimated $96 billion in parts and inventory at any one time and has disposed of nearly $15 billion in excess parts in the past three years. Speier has spoken on the House floor on this wasteful spending in a segment called "The Price is Wrong."

 

On this amendment Congresswoman Speier said:

“The days of $436 hammers, $7,600 coffeemakers and $640 toilet seats are far from over. Private contractors are fleecing taxpayers whose investment in our nation’s defense is ending up in the toilet. Military services should be going to the Defense Logistics Agency to get these parts, but they think that it’s faster and cheaper to go to directly to the contractor and so they pay exorbitant prices for small dollar items.”

 

 

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Congresswoman Jackie Speier is proud to represent California’s 14th Congressional District, which includes parts of San Francisco and San Mateo counties. She is a senior member of the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform and the House Armed Services Committee (HASC). In her role on the Oversight and Government Reform Committee, the Congresswoman is a ranking member on the Subcommittee on Energy Policy, Health Care, and Entitlements and serves on the Subcommittee on National Security. She serves on the Readiness Subcommittee and the Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee on HASC and is a member of the House Gun Violence Prevention Task Force. Congresswoman Speier was appointed to serve as a Senior Whip for the Democratic caucus in the 113th Congress.