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Project on Government Oversight




C-17: Unwanted Cargo to Budget

July 1, 2010 


As Congress begins consideration of the FY 2011 Defense Appropriations bill, we hope that they will support the Pentagon and President by passing such waste-reduction initiatives as an amendment to strip funding for unneeded C-17 cargo planes

The Pentagon has repeatedly stated that they have no use for new C-17 aircraft, and that  their current fleet is substantial and sufficient. This claim is confirmed by the Pentagon's most recent completed analysis for air transport needs, the 2005 Mobility Capability Study, which stated that 180 C-17s are all that are necessary within an acceptable measure of risk.

However, when it comes to the C-17 program, Congress has earmarked with reckless abandon. In 2007, the conference committee more than tripled the number of additional C-17s requested by House and Senate authorizers and appropriators. In 2009 Congress continued to fund the production of C-17s with a $2.5 billion appropriation, despite the strong objection by Defense Secretary Robert Gates and President Obama.

Ashton Carter, the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology & Logistics, stated earlier this week that "delivering better value to the taxpayer and improving the way the Department does business" is an "important priority." Purchasing more planes that we do not need is by no means better value for the taxpayer, especially in the current economic climate.

POGO has been fighting against this waste of taxpayer funds since 2005 and we have seen some progress since that time—back then there was resistance to even referring to the program as an "earmark." We now ask that Congress heed Secretary Gates' request that Members of Congress "rise above parochial interests and consider what is in the best interest of the nation as a whole." In this time of war and economic hardship, the expenditure of tax-dollars on military programs that the military itself has explicitly stated it does not need or want is especially wasteful and imprudent.

Founded in 1981, the Project On Government Oversight (POGO) is a nonpartisan independent watchdog that champions good government reforms. POGO's investigations into corruption, misconduct, and conflicts of interest achieve a more effective, accountable, open, and ethical federal government.

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