If a whistle is blown, and the Pentagon pretends not to hear it…

Knight-Ridder reports that a retired Army Reserve officer called the Pentagon's fraud hotline to report that he had a spreadsheet proving that the Defense Department was overpaying for kitchen appliances. We're talking some serious cash -- $5,500 for a deep-fat fryer, $1,781.90 for a waffle iron.

Altogether Paul Fellencer Sr. had proof of some $200 million in wasted spending due to a complete lack of competitive bids. It's the same story we've heard before -- cozy business connections between contractors and politicians that lead to absurd overpricing. But the Pentagon defends its response (or lack thereof) to Fellencer:

According to Diana Stewart, a Defense Logistics Agency spokeswoman, investigators didn't need to contact Fellencer because his letter and spreadsheets 'provided adequate information for the examining official to conduct the review and investigation of the complaint.'
And the review found that, despite the spreadsheets, the tip was "unsubstantiatied."

The uncompetitive bids and overpaying are, unfortunately, hardly surprising. More curious is the logic of the Pentagon being in charge of a "waste and fraud" hotline based on their own goings-on. That's like having people call you to complain about your unethical conduct. How far do you really think that's going to go? If anything, it's giving insider information that can then be utilized to further cover up unethical actions.

And really, the number of deep fat fryers, waffle irons, and popcorn machines is just troubling. What are we feeding these people? Perhaps we could get the Defense Department to look into some absurdly overpriced veggie steamers.

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