GAO report details sting operation that defrauded DOD surplus program for police

The Government Accountability Office has issued a report describing a sting operation that revealed serious flaws in the Defense Logistics Agency's Law Enforcement Support Office program for surplus controlled equipment.

By Stephen Carlson  
A Federal Bureau of Investigation MRAP armored vehicle, which is among the many pieces of equipment made available to law enforcement through a surplus support program of the Department of Defense. Photo courtesy of the FBI.
 
The Government Accountability Office has issued a report describing a sting operation that revealed serious flaws in the Defense Logistics Agency's Law Enforcement Support Office program for surplus controlled equipment.
The report details how the GAO formed a fictitious law enforcement agency and arranged for the transfer of $1.2 million in controlled equipment from the Department of Defense using the program, including night-vision goggles, M16A2 rifle simulators and dummy pipe bombs.
No lethal gear was transferred, though the GAO says that many of the items obtained could be converted into functional firearms and explosives using commercially available parts. Surplus military night-vision systems are considered sensitive items and are not available for the general public.
"They never did any verification, like visiting our 'location,'" director of the GAO team that ran the sting Zina Merritt told the Marshall Project. "It was like getting stuff off eBay."
In response to the report, the Department of Defense has pledged to tighten up verification procedures for the program and conduct an audit of the program by April 2018. It acknowledged that this is not the first time unqualified agencies have participated in the program, with at least one prior case confirmed.
The Law Enforcement Support Office and the provision of surplus military equipment dates back to the Clinton Administration-era and 1033 program established in 1997.
Over $6 billion in surplus equipment has been transferred to federal, state, and local agencies since 1991, including armored vehicles, weapons, surveillance gear, bomb disposal equipment, and riot control gear.
GAO report details sting operation that defrauded DOD surplus program for police Reviewed by Bizpodia on 20:17 Rating: 5

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