Chuck Grassley

United States Senator from Iowa

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Grassley Urges Esper in Handwritten Note to Commit to Fiscal Responsibility, Reform at DoD

Jul 30, 2019

WASHINGTON – Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) sent a letter to U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) Secretary Mark Esper urging him to adopt a culture of budgetary discipline at the DoD. Grassley also added a handwritten note, urging action to stop waste, fraud and abuse.

“I appreciate your commitment to changing the culture at DoD. Safeguarding taxpayers’ money and reining in waste is crucial to military readiness and supporting our Americans in arms. Please fight to accomplish our mutual goals. If you decide to reissue the Mattis policy on waste, please put some teeth in it. Those who violate the rules should be fired,” Grassley wrote.

“Please energize the IG to help you fight the war on waste. He hardly ever uses the word ‘waste’ in his reports!!! I stand ready to help you.”

Grassley has been a watchdog against waste, fraud and abuse at the DoD for nearly four decades. Grassley’s extensive oversight work throughout his career has included a dogged pursuit for answers from the Pentagon over decades of wasteful spending and its inability to produce a clean financial audit.

Most recently, spurred by reports of TransDigm’s egregious price-gouging, Grassley sent a letter to former Acting Secretary of Defense Patrick M. Shanahan seeking information about how the DoD contracts with businesses and other entities in overpricing. Grassley also inquired about the DoD’s process to collect cost data from those entities and how Congress can help DoD in stopping price-gouging practices.

Earlier this year, Grassley pressed the DoD on why it was purchasing cups that cost $1,280 each. Last year, Grassley sent a letter to Department of Defense Principal Deputy Inspector General Glenn A. Fine seeking answers on why the department was wasting $14,000 of taxpayer money on individual toilet seat covers. Grassley has also worked to hold the Defense Department accountable for its excessive and largely unaccounted for spending in Afghanistan, including a $43 million gas station.

Text of the letter available HERE and below.

Dear Secretary Esper:

I first want to congratulate you on your confirmation on becoming Secretary of Defense for the United States of America. It is now your great honor and responsibility to lead the greatest military in the world, as well as manage one of the United States of America’s largest financial commitments.

When we met last week, I was impressed with your commitment to rein in wasteful spending and get the Pentagon’s financial problems in order. I mentioned to you that I thought highly of former Secretary of Defense James Mattis’s July 2017 memorandum in which he committed to rooting out waste at the Department of Defense, citing the necessity for budgetary discipline, a culture of cost awareness, accountability of Department employees, and the importance of earning the trust and confidence of the Congress and the American people. As you begin your tenure as Secretary of Defense, I respectfully encourage you to adopt the same policies by reissuing the memorandum under your signature. By doing so, I believe you would do much to encourage the cultural changes you are trying to affect and would cement these policies as standard operating procedure at the Department of Defense. This is a leadership opportunity not to be missed. And it will do much to set the tone for what I hope will be an extraordinarily successful time as the leader of the greatest military in the world.

PS: I appreciate your commitment to changing the culture at DoD. Safeguarding taxpayers’ money and reining in waste is crucial to military readiness and supporting our Americans in arms. Please fight to accomplish our mutual goals. If you decide to reissue the Mattis policy on waste, please put some teeth in it. Those who violate the rules should be fired. Please energize the IG to help you fight the war on waste. He hardly ever uses the word ‘waste’ in his reports!!! I stand ready to help you.

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