08 December 2008

Putting jobs ahead of soldier performance

(this one's made its rounds on the web quite a bit today - blackfive.net, defensetech, etc - but we've added some perspective because, hey, we're cool like that).

So we've got the latest installment of the Congressional Jobs Program Follies. Unlike previous attempts to shamelessly use the DoD as a local-jobs program, these guys openly admit to requesting earmarks to keep jobs in Congressional Districts rather than allowing the DoD to steer purchases toward more effective soldier solutions.
The Defense Department bought huge stockpiles of Rohm and Haas' resin in 2005 and 2006, enough to last through 2012, said Douglas Bryce, second in command of the DOD's joint chemical- and biological-defense office.
After the large purchases of resin, the military didn't include funding for M291 kits in its budget because the product was being phased out, Bryce said.
But members of Congress had different plans. Staffers for Sens. Clinton and Schumer met with Daniel Kohn, president of Truetech, a Riverhead, N.Y., company that mixed the powder from the resin and produced the kits.
"In self-defense, we've gone to our representatives in Congress and we've said: 'You know, let's lay our cards on the table — we're in business to provide a living and jobs in your district,' " Kohn said in a recent interview.
Clinton, Schumer and others added a $2 million earmark to the 2007 defense bill, instructing the military to buy M291 kits.
In March 2007, the Defense Department gave all branches of the service the go-ahead to buy RSDL.
Although it hadn't intended to buy any more M291 kits, the military honored the earmark and bought more kits from Truetech and Pine Bluff Arsenal, a federal facility in Arkansas that assembles them. With its huge stockpile of resin, the military bought nothing from Rohm and Haas.
Rohm and Haas went back to Congress and got another $5.6 million earmark in the 2008 defense bill.

our italics
So these guys are willing to sacrifice the lives of soldiers in combat, all for the promise of a few jobs in local Congressional districts, and Congress buys it!

Of course, Lou Dobbs screamed loud and long about the Northrup/Airbus tanker deal, too:
(Representative Duncan) HUNTER: We'll get that when we send my provision in this bill when it goes up to the Senate in conference. The president's people will issue a statement. I hope at this point they've been pretty well bludgeoned by thousands of messages from the American people saying don't give those 100,000 jobs to Europe. If so, they won't object to it and we'll get this provision through.
(CNN Host Lou) DOBBS: Tell me how the geniuses at the United States Air Force, at the Pentagon, the Department of Defense and this administration managed to but Northrop Grumman into competition with Boeing, to put American contractors in competition with one another, and then turn it over to Airbus against whom we have charge in the World Trade Organization for subsidizing that business?
HUNTER: It's an old pattern, Lou. And what you do is if you're an American company, you partner up with a European company, just as they did on several other aircraft. And you go in as so-called partners where there's going to be some jobs created in America. But thousands and thousands of jobs created offshore, all with American dollars, all with American taxpayer money.

I emailed him my comments, which I'm sure he ignored.

The DoD jobs program also comes up every time there's a BRAC round, too.
In 2005, several targeted bases were the subject of Congressional opposition:
U.S. Sen. Olympia Snowe, R-Maine, called the recommendation a 'travesty and a strategic blunder of epic proportions on the part of the Defense Department.'

You know why, though, right? Not because Snowe is a national security expert or anything.
Her state has three installations on the list, including the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard.

The New England Congressional whiners even tried to appeal directly to the President.

South Dakota got into the action that day, too. Of course, they won their argument to have a B1 base removed from the BRAC list.
'This is a great day for South Dakota, but we think it's a great day for America,' said Thune, adding that he spent more time lobbying base commissioners in the last three months than he had with his family.

And thus we end up remembering the the truth of government auditing
Federal accounting has always been primarily concerned with making sure money was spent as Congress directed - not with making sure it was spent wisely.

By: Brant


J. said...

There's a longer story behind the M291 kits - Rohm and Haas wanted to dump its production of M291 kits back in 2001 (earlier? I forget), but would not give the US govt proprietary rights over the resin. This meant that the govt needed to make its own resin for the M295 decon mitt (very similar), which it did. Problem was that the DOD resin wasn't FDA-approved for use on human skin, so the decon mitt was for equipment decon only.

The RSDL was a Canadian product that had some limitations with regards to efficacy and safety, so there were FDA issues there also. Took several years to work those out. So DOD went back and started dealing with R&H, and you get the story we have now. Not that this narrative excuses any of the behavoir you've stated.

thanks for the info, I missed this story.

Brant said...

It would be one thing if it were an isolated incident. But it's clearly a part of a larger pattern of behavior to prioritize employment ahead of battlefield performance. And that's bad.