Pentagon paid contractor $1 million to ship two 19-cent washers

The government definitely has a tendency to overpay for things. My husband, for example, recently became a government employee, and there was a digital camera on the roster of equipment he’s in charge of which couldn’t be found. It finally turned up just at the point where he would have had to replace it (the guy who was supposed to turn it over to him still had it in his desk), but he certainly wouldn’t have had to pay more then $100 for the same camera the government had paid $800 for. We’re talking an off-the-shelf digital cheapie. And there wasn’t even any shipping and handling involved!

The government’s ability to waste money is truly legendary. But to overpay that much for shipping & handling charges? It really makes me wonder if the invoice-approver was in on the scam. I honestly don’t know how they could have gotten away with it in the first place otherwise.

Now THAT’S getting screwed!


Reminds me a bit of something that that happened at work. I worked in a large server lab…hundreds of machines, all with fans blasting, made it pretty noisy. Since the lab door was secure, you couldn’t get in unless you were authorized or someone escorted you. But people would occasionally come to the door and knock. The only trouble is that you couldn’t hear a knock on the door. So what’s the solution? A doorbell. Asked facilities for a doorbell, and they said we’d need to budget $4,000 to install one. For all the wiring, ripping out the drywall, fixing it back up, and so on. So my co-worker went to target and bought a wireless doorbell for $5.00 out of his own pocket. The doorbell stuck to the outside of the door with stickytape. Simple and worked like a charm.

Don’t get your hopes up, I already won the bid to provide those same parts for a quarter of what they paid previously…

Only $50K each for my washers…

I don’t know if this is true, but I heard Garrison Keillor tell the story on Prairie Home Companion about how NASA spent millions of dollars to develop a ballpoint pen that would write in zero-g and hard vacuum. The Russian cosmonauts used a pencil.


It’s a pretty good pen, though.

How long a piece of pipe you have to put on the ratchet wrench handle to get that kinda poundy-feets? :wink:

They used cranes…

It’s a good thing we elected all those Democrats, otherwise we wouldn’t be holding all these war profiteering hearings.

If you’re gonna claim something useful came out of Independence Day, you can just keep a-walkin’.

That’s just ridiculous - I would have done it for half that and would have thrown in another washer for free. Hell, I’m still willing to offer this. Weekly, if necessary.

I know that. Doesn’t mean they SHOULDN’T do it, and I mean the suppliers. The DoD functionaries simply follow protocol, being allowed to think isn’t something the DoD looks kindly upon.

That’s the thing about the government, a large portion of all government is reactionary. Everything from Law Enforcement to Disaster Logistics. The mantra is; wait until something happens, THEN react. Know why? It’s CHEAPER!

Know why it has to be cheaper? Because WE demand it. We don’t have the collective resolve to be prudent and proactive, so this kind of shit happens.

A million bucks is a lot of scratch, sure, but weigh it against the whole of the entire budget? Meh.

Oh, yeah? Well, I’m willing to walk them to Iraq, holding them on my tongue.

For that kinda money, that better be one fine-looking robot hooker!

He talks about it all the time. Every time he takes it out he goes on and on about how it writes upside down, how the astronauts use it… I know his wife. She has some mouth on her. She’ll tell everyone in the condo now that you made him give you the pen. They’re talking about it right now.

This is almost too funny…(from the linked article)

“It is a troubling case because the fraud took place during a time of war,” said Kevin McDonald, the first assistant U.S. attorney for the District of South Carolina. The $20 million “that could have gone to assist our military was diverted and used in a fraudulent manner for excessive personal enjoyment.”

Because of course, it wouldn’t be troubling at all if there wasn’t a war on. I guess assistant US attorneys don’t get speechwriters.

I find it a troubling case because they are sending invoices for $1 million to the US Government, which pays the invoices without any sort of checking that they are entitled to the money. I can understand not quibbling over the odd $10 or $20, but surely it would pay to check on larger amounts. So, who designed their accounts-payable processes?

from my past. I was a product manager for a small electronics components manufacturer. Every 2-3 months we would get a request for quote from a supply center at a USAF base in Incerlik, Turkey. I would dutifully prepare a quote (it was a lot of work), and reply. This went on for a year-and we never got an order. So I sent an email, and was told to the effect that “we really don’t need to buy anything, our supply system automatically generates a request for quote, when our stock level drops below a ceratin point”-so, what a stupid system! It looks like a bored supply sergent needed something to do with his time.Oh, and the same RFQ would come in from OTHER USAF sites! What a bunch of dopes!

I’m guessing you don’t just use a 6-foot “cheater” bar to tighten them… :slight_smile: