Ending is Better Than Mending, Ending is Better Than Mending...

A GAO report on Defense Department trash notes that items worth $3.5 billion were in "new, unused, and excellent condition" before they were destroyed, donated, or sold for pennies on the dollar. The department then "continued to buy many of these same items." Presumably DOD bureaucrats have been reading John Tierney.

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    Although it seems awful (and in a lot of cases it is awful) sometimes there is no other choice. It is actually cheaper to trash / sell those items than do anything else with them.

    When the base I lived on in England closed there was obviously a lot of property left, from desks in offices to lightbulbs to beds whitegoods. If I remember correctly the other bases in the area had first crack at the goods (the receiveing base was on the hook for pickup and transportation). Whatever they didn't take was then put up for sale (to airmen and family). There were some damn good deals to be had, for example big ass oak desks for $10, which may seem like a rip-off, but it was cheaper to sell it for pennies on the dollar than to have to pay for them to be trashed. Next, stuff that wasn't sold was trashed, simply because trashing was cheaper than sending it back to the states.

    Seemingly wasteful? Yes, but in the grand scheme of things cheaper than any other alternative.

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    Couldn't the remaining stuff have been donated to the British version of Good Will?

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    I work for the DoD and part of my job is to give disposition for material that has been returned from military users. Say an antenna, waveguide, or circuit breaker is returned from an Air Force, Army, or Navy user. Some of these items cost thousands of dollars each. The item may be coded as safety critical (if it fails someone may die) or weapon system critical (if it fails the end item will not work). I have to decide based on a skimpy report from the depot where the part was returned what final disposition is to be. The depot is hundreds of miles away and the workers there are very busy. Quite often they do not report/know the condition of the item (new and unused or used and broken). If I instruct them to keep the item and issue it to the next military unit that orders it I may end up killing one of our soldiers. Getting items tested to ensure they still work is time consuming, you would not believe the hoops to hop through, and unreliable. The people who do the tests are government workers after all. Many times the easiest and safest thing to do is to dispose of the item. I know this seems crazy but it is done. If anyone has an idea that can help me make better decisions please post it here.

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    For having a link to this comment area directly from sloid there sure aren't very many comments...

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    The wasteful purchasing we indulge in can be prety bad sometimes.

    At the command I work at now, one of our shops ordered 2 filter washers, needed (and so kept) 1, gave the other to my shop.

    We don't use it because the value it adds to our sevices is less than the cost of getting rid of the waste it generates and another shop already provides that the filter washing service (after all, they ordered the freaking thing in the first place).

    For two years ours has been serving as a parts bin for the other one and so it wouldn't work even if we had a use for it (and this after wasting the time and money to construct it).

    So we try to get rid of it - CO says no - he's the only one who can authorize us to remove equipment (which came as a surprise, since we've been getting rid of uneccessary/broken junk since I'vebeen here).

    So we couldn't get rid of it or leave it as is, we had to spend money to get the thing running again.

    Needless to say the other shop doesn't get to cannabalize it any more - we aren't buying their damn spare parts for them. That money comes out of *my* OPTAR.


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