Sen. Tom Coburn has published the DHS’s February 4, 2013 letter responding to his request for information about almost 7,000 automatic weapons, almost 3,000 urban tanks, and almost 2 billion bullets it’s purchased recently. These are significant purchases. The bullets alone are enough to fight another Iraq wars for twenty-five years, while the tanks have seen being transported all over America.
According to the DHS’s response to Sen. Coburn, it made these large purchases in order to save money:
DHS routinely establishes strategic sourcing contracts that combine the requirements of all its Components for commonly purchased goods and services such as ammunition, computer equipment and information technology services. These strategic sourcing contracts help leverage the purchasing power of DHS to efficiently procure equipment and supplies at significantly lower costs.
This sounds very reasonable, except that it doesn’t add up. First of all, it conflicts with another DHS statement to the effect that it wasn’t actually buying all these things. It was just creating what amounted to a bureaucratic wish list so that, if it needed the items in future, the budget would accommodate them. Or, as it told the U.S. News and World Report’s “Washington Whispers” blog:
DHS told Whispers it regularly fills all of its goods and services requirements at one time because it’s cheaper for the agency, and that the 1.6 billion number was misleading because the language of DHS’s purchase said it would need “up to” a certain amount.
One solicitation by the agency—for training centers and law enforcement personnel—was for “up to” 750 million rounds of training ammunition over the next five years, DHS spokesman Peter Boogaard told Whispers.
Another five-year contract allows for the purchase of “up to” 450 million rounds of ammunition, he said, and was also for law enforcement. Boogaard noted that the contract would be used by all DHS agencies except the Coast Guard.
Wish-lists do not equal bulk purchases and do not justify bulk discounts. One of those stories, therefore, must be untrue.
In addition, the DHS’s claim that it gets bulk purchase discounts doesn’t add up either. CNSNews.com did the math – or tried to – to no avail, because the numbers are illogical:
While it has been previously reported that DHS has solicited the purchase of 1.6 billion rounds of ammunition over the next four to five years, the government agency shows only 263,733,362 rounds in its current inventory.
But, DHS estimates it will spend $37,263,698 on ammunition in FY 2013.
Last year, DHS spent $36,535,910, a decrease from 2011’s ammunition expense of $38,237,305.
Also, over the last three years the number of rounds purchased by DHS has declined.
In 2010, the agency purchased 148,314,825 rounds. In 2011, 108,664,054 rounds were purchased; and in 2012, 103,178,200 rounds.
Even people who like math will be tempted to say “huh?” when faced with those funny numbers, which show decreasing needs and purchases, right up until recently.
Bureaucracies are famously inefficient and Obama’s bureaucracies are famously secretive. Between the one and the other, it’s imperative that the American people and their elected representatives keep the pressure on the DHS until it comes up with an answer that explains its previously issued conflicting statements and that reconciles the peculiar numbers that bear no relationship to the information it’s reluctantly trickling out.