- The Washington Times - Thursday, August 15, 2013

The Pentagon is spending millions on cars, trucks and buses that are sitting unused in the nation’s capital.

The agency’s internal watchdog said two-thirds of the 774 non-combat vehicles owned by four Defense Department offices in the Washington area did not meet minimum usage requirements, with 89 of the 511 being driven less than 1,000 miles in a year.

Eliminating the unneeded vehicles could save the agency $7.2 million over the next six years, said an investigation by the Pentagon’s Inspector General.

The IG called the unused vehicles “a waste of DOD funds.”

Investigators also found that the vehicle manager for the Defense Logistics Agency at Ft. Belvoir used a government purchase card from the manager of the mailroom to buy $57,000 worth of vehicles, rental cars and taxis without a valid contract, something investigators said could lead to waste.

DOD officials said they are evaluating vehicle usage, but officials at the Navy Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS) disagreed with the IG’s recommendation for keeping a daily mileage log.

“NCIS special agents operate in foreign countries and are subject to surveillance by foreign intelligence operations,” the office wrote in response to the IG. “Recording travel mileage exposes those individuals and operations undertaken by them to compromise.”

IG officials said NCIS could find alternate ways to track vehicle usage, but the agency still needed to evaluate its vehicle fleet. One 2009 Dodge Avenger at NCIS was driven only 354 miles in 2011, the IG said.

Staffing shortages are hampering efforts to determine how often vehicles are used, the IG said. And though mileage driven isn’t the sole indicator of a vehicle’s use, investigators said they want the offices to strongly consider whether or not they need the vehicles.

The four agencies are the Navy, Defense Logistics Agency, Pentagon Force Protection Agency and Washington Headquarters Services.