DOJ Pissed Away $2.1 Million on Drones that Don’t Work
DOJ’s IG just released a report on the Department’s drone use. Its overall recommendation is that FBI get more drones, so it has them in locations around the country for quick use if they’re needed (sigh). It also found that FBI doesn’t have good records of how it partners with other agencies (notably, Customs and Border Patrol) to use their drones, which seems like it might present discovery problems.
But I’m most struck by how much money DOJ is blowing on drones that don’t work.
The IG reports — but seems unconcerned — that half of the drones FBI has bought are not operational.
Our September 2013 interim report found that between 2004 and 2013, the FBI spent approximately $3 million to acquire small UAS it deployed to support its investigations. As of August 2014, the FBI had acquired 34 UAS vehicles and associated control stations, of which it considered 17 vehicles and a smaller number of control stations to be operational.
I find this more troubling given that FBI claims only to have used drones in 13 investigations between September 2006 and August 2014. So are they losing more than one drone every time they use one for an investigation?
The IG is far more concerned about ATF’s sunk drone costs.
Our September 2013 interim report found that ATF possessed UAS and planned to deploy them operationally. Specifically, between September 2011 and September 2012, ATF’s UAS program spent approximately $600,000 to purchase three different types of rotary-wing UAS with a total of six UAS vehicles.
ATF officials reported that ATF never flew its UAS in support its operations because TOB testing and pilot training revealed a series of technological limitations with the UAS models it had acquired. In particular, ATF determined the real-time battery capability for one UAS model lasted for only about 20 minutes even though the manufacturer specified its flight time was 45 minutes. ATF determined that the other two models of UAS acquired also were unreliable or unsuitable for surveillance. One UAS program manager told us ATF found that one of its smaller UAS models, which cost nearly $90,000, was too difficult to use reliably in operations. Furthermore, the TOB discovered that a gas-powered UAS model, which cost approximately $315,000 and was specified to fly for up to 2 hours, was never operable due to multiple technical defects.
In June 2014, the Special Operations Division concluded that ATF’s UAS were unsuitable for operational use, suspended all ATF UAS-related activities, and reassigned all UAS staff until after DOJ issues and ATF reviews new UAS policy recommendations. In September 2014, the TOB transferred its six UAS vehicles and other related equipment purchased prior to June 2014 to the Naval Criminal Investigative Service at no cost.
Although the OIG did not specifically audit ATF’s UAS contracts, we are troubled that the process ATF used to purchase these UAS resulted in ATF spending approximately $600,000 on UAS models it ultimately determined to have significant mechanical and technical problems that rendered them unsuitable to deploy in support of ATF operations.
By my calculation, all of ATF’s investments in drones ($600,000) and half of FBI’s investments in drones (half of $3 million) have been lost to drones that either never did or no longer work. $2.1 million on drones that don’t fly.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m not crazy about DOJ buying up a fleet of small drones for investigative uses they’re keeping inadequate paperwork on in the first place.
But neither am I happy about DOJ pissing away all this money on drones that don’t work.
Why should the Pentagon be the only corrupt government agency, awarding ‘sweetheart’ contracts to friends for consulting and poorly operating products with “technological limitations” — like they don’t work. . .Mini F-35s.
It’s not really pissing away money, it’s transferring it from anonymous sources to those friends who appreciate receiving it. That’s a primary function of government. It would be news if they DIDN’T do it.
And somewhere, there are scads of DOJ and ATF guys surprised by the suggestion that they’ve been anything less than “frugal” by spending “only” $3 million on these domestic drones used in warrantless surveillance and “only” having about half of them working. What about the pallets of cash sent unaccountably to Iraq, they are thinking. What about the second engine for the F35? What about Yemen? The DOJ drone program: ain’t we a bargain?
Appreciate the post & the comments. Worth knowing, but it’s more or less: same old, same old graft, corruption, handing money to the already rich, blah blah blah.
It’s like: come back with some real news the next time, like man bites dog.
Sadly citizens have become so inured to govt corruption like this, that they don’t care and don’t even bother to waste the energy even frowning about it.
I’m not sure that the corruption is all on the side of government. Having worked for local government, I suspect a lot of businesses look at government contracts as a source of fast, easy profits – they underbid to get the contracts, and have to use substandard materials to make the profit they expect, so government gets from them less than what was paid for. Like the drones.
Which is one reason why government contracts are so detailed (and why stuff the government buys by contract runs into more money, meeting those detailed specs).
quote”Having worked for local government, I suspect a lot of businesses look at government contracts as a source of fast, easy profits – they underbid to get the contracts, and have to use substandard materials to make the profit they expect, so government gets from them less than what was paid for. Like the drones.”unquote
Indeed. For 8 yrs, I watched a small business in Coos Bay Oregon, expand, month by month into a substantial industrial layout over 2 blocks of downtown, while most companies were barely surviving due to the recession and the general downswing of lumber mill closures on the southern coast of Oregon. Notwithstanding the visual lack of employee’s by virtue of no cars, I was always amazed at 3-6 Mercedes, Humvees, BMW’s and assorted sports vehicles and trailers, boats, motorhomes etc parked in their fenced in parking area. In 2013 we found out why a local family went from rags to riches virtually overnight.
quote”Don’t get me wrong. I’m not crazy about DOJ buying up a fleet of small drones for investigative uses they’re keeping inadequate paperwork on in the first place.
quote”But neither am I happy about DOJ pissing away all this money on drones that don’t work.’unquote
Not me. This is one of the few times I’m actually laughing at the DOJ/FBI pissing away money on shit that don’t work. Fuck em. When push comes to shove, ANYTHING that can slow down the expansion of the surveillance state is A-OK with me. After all, the halls of Congress and every agency in the USG are filled with assholes who worship at the alter of a monopoly of violence, control and fascism, while exploiting their own little bureaucratic power structures for their own pathetic narcissistic personality and financial goals. Unfortunately, over the decades, this has resulted in a cesspool of MIC corruption the size of which will only be bleached by the blood of a million plus real patriots who finally declare, ..enough is enough. It’s only a matter of time. The living proof is the Framers knew. Eventually, absolute power corrupts absolutely. This is why they gave you the 2nd Amendment. Don’t piss it away. Your great great grandchildren will spit on your graves.
That’s amazing and these light weight criminal should be Hanged for not stealing more $$$$$$$$$$. It’s amazing back in the old days a trillion could vanish and know one had any time where it went. Don R. are you out their and how does it feel?$$$$$$$
hey joe.. I’d sans the 6pk before posting next time.