McCain: Pentagon Not Protecting Taxpayer Money

Arizona Senator John McCain is continuing his fight against abusive spending and waster in Washington. The Military Times report:

“Despite the crippling effects that sequestration is having on our military services, the Defense Department continues to throw millions of dollars out the door as it fails to adequately manage the costs and budget for service member relocations,” the Arizona Republican said in a statement issued Tuesday.

“It is critical that the Pentagon finally start budgeting for its expenses instead of coming to Congress, hat in hand, when funding inevitably runs dry,” said McCain, chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee.

McCain’s critical remarks come on the heels of a Government Accountability Office report released last week that criticized the Pentagon for failing to keep track of the money spent on permanent change-of-station, or PCS, moves.

Forcewide spending on PCS moves is up 13 percent since 2001, increasing from $3.8 billion that year to $4.3 billion in 2014, according to the GAO.

Those costs are rising despite a decline in the total number of annual moves, which is down by 12 percent, from about 731,000 in 2001 to about 646,000 in 2014, according to the report.

Driving up the total spending is per-move costs. Since 2001, the cost of an average PCS move has risen 28 percent, from $4,200 then to about $6,700 today, according to the report.

For years, Congress has pressured the Defense Department to cut PCS-related spending, which includes household goods shipping fees, storage, travel allowances, temporary lodging expenses and other costs.

Military.com adds greater context.

The Arizona senator Tuesday called out the $4 billion spent annually on permanent change of station, or PCS, moves in the newest installment of his government waste reports, called “America’s Most Wasted.” He cited a federal audit released earlier this month that found PCS costs rose 28 percent since 2001 while the number of moves decreased by 12 percent during that time.

“In recent years, Congress has directed [the Defense Department] to find efficiencies in the program, but the Department has been slow to implement meaningful change,” according to McCain’s report. “That means it’s probably time for Congress to take a much closer look at the PCS program.”

It is a strong signal from the chairman of the Armed Services Committee — a key congressional body for military policy — that PCS moves could be the next program in line for reform as lawmakers, the Obama administration and the Pentagon look to curb ballooning personnel costs.

A retirement system overhaul is in the works, House and Senate leaders are battling over increasing Tricare co-pays, and President Barack Obama recently decided to keep troop pay raises below the rate of inflation for next year.

America’s legislators have continued to fight over how to reform Pentagon spending without hurting our national defense priorities. McCain is uniquely positioned, not only because of his Chairmanship of the Armed Services Committee, but because of his career experience with the military and fighting waste.

McCain has built a career on reforming spending on Washington, fighting pork spending since his first election to Congress. As government reform becomes a priority, McCain leadership will become more important than ever.

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