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Public Statements

Department of Defense Appropriations Act, 2013

Floor Speech

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

BREAK IN TRANSCRIPT

Ms. SPEIER. Mr. Chairman, I'm here to offer an amendment to strike $120.5 million in undistributed funds from the Joint Improvised Explosive Device Defeat Fund, matching the Senate authorizers and keeping intact over $1.7 billion for this program.

The Joint Improvised Explosive Device Defeat Fund--more commonly known as JIEDDO--is responsible for leading, advocating and coordinating the Defense Department's efforts to defeat IEDs. After more than $20 billion, Congress has received numerous reports that JIEDDO has had decidedly mixed outcomes, and after three attempts still has not developed a mechanism for tracking the Pentagon's counter-IED efforts. So we've spent $20 billion.

In the Senate, the Armed Services Committee cut $200 million from JIEDDO. In their report, they said JIEDDO suffered from:

Duplication of effort with the military services, excessive contractor support costs, and organizational inefficiencies.

As The Washington Post recently reported, these excessive contractor support costs included noncompetitive contracts given to former government employees profiting from Washington's perpetual revolving door and hundreds of millions of dollars of contracts being subcontracted out to other former military personnel.

Isn't this what our constituents dislike the most about what's going on here, that there are cronyism activities, that there are revolving doors and that military personnel, after they're retired, become mentors?

This bill also recognizes there's a problem here. The bill itself has actually reduced their budget by $60 million.

The IED threat remains significant, but continuing to robustly invest in counter-IED technology makes less sense, both tactically and strategically.

From a tactical level, Pentagon statistics show that IEDs were 25 percent less effective this year than the year before. Strategically, we are shifting away from ground wars and counterinsurgency missions and must begin reallocating some of these funds to more pressing national security needs.

In February, the GAO told Congress that JIEDDO's poor planning and management resulted in many funds going to duplicative projects, creating waste and likely slowing down the ability of the Department of Defense to meet its mission objectives. For example, in 2008, U.S. Central Command began development for a directed energy solution to defeating IEDs. Without coordination, JIEDDO undertook six different efforts to tackle the problem, which cost taxpayers at least $104 million.

When the commander of U.S. Central Command still didn't have a solution by August 2011, he had to write JIEDDO to urge them to coordinate their efforts in hopes of getting something he could field to fulfill what was then a 3-year-old unmet requirement for the warfighter. JIEDDO coordinated the effort of the six projects but deferred making a decision on shifting resources or canceling the project yet again. The organization also admitted that they likely would not have been able to execute their mission to manage the Pentagon's IED efforts in this case without the commander's written protest.

Some soldiers in the field have also expressed disappointment at JIEDDO's results. A marine that served in Afghanistan in 2009 compared the IED-detecting devices issued by JIEDDO to a beachcomber's faulty metal detector and said his IED jammers were frequently broken. Others report that dogs remain more reliable detectors downrange.

It's time to stop signing a blank check for an organization that cannot track its projects or expenditures, that often gives contracts to its cronies, and that the GAO has said is duplicative.

As we draw down in Afghanistan and look to cut funds from much more productive and efficient parts of the Federal budget, I urge you to support these cuts of an inefficient organization that lacks the management controls to prevent taxpayer dollars from being wasted.

I yield back the balance of my time.

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