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Senators Lankford Introduces “Federal Fumbles” Proposals as NDAA Amendments to Cut Waste at Departments of Defense, Veterans Affairs

WASHINGTON, DC – Senator James Lankford (R-OK) today introduced two amendments to the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) to cut waste within the Departments of Defense (DOD) and Veterans Affairs (VA). Each piece of legislation is included in Lankford’s government waste report released last year entitled, “Federal Fumbles: 100 Ways The Government Dropped The Ball.”

“There are many areas of duplication and inefficiency within the Department of Defense and Department of Veterans Affairs,” said Lankford. “These amendments are common-sense examples of ways to bring efficiencies and mission-focused strategies to the grant process, medical research, and prescription-drug program.”

National Security-focused Federal Grants (#4239)

Last year, DOD issued a grant worth $283,500 to survey the habits of small birds called the California gnatcatcher, in order to determine their use for vegetation alliance. Grants like these do not directly support the Department of Defense’s national security mission. This amendment establishes a policy that all grants issued by the Department of Defense must support national security. (Federal Fumbles page 19)

Prescription Drug Purchasing (#4240)

In 2012, the DOD and VA separately purchased drugs for 18.5 million beneficiaries at a cost of $11.8 billion. The nonpartisan Government Accountability Office (GAO) surveyed 83 common drugs purchased by both departments and found that by purchasing the drug at the lower of either DOD’s or VA’s price, the taxpayer could have realized a combined savings of $120 million. GAO also found inconsistencies in prescription drug purchasing across Medicare, MedicarePart D, and DOD. This amendment would align the structure, statutory parameters, and regulatory guidance across the VA and DOD prescription-buying programs to increase buying power and reduce costs. (Federal Fumbles page 70)

Another proposal from Lankford’s “Federal Fumbles” report was included in the original version of this year’s NDAA – the re-alignment of Medical Research funding (Federal Fumbles page 51). In August 2015, DOD offered a $25 million grant for breast cancer research. Cancer research is an important and admirable initiative, but it’s outside the mission of the DOD to award grants to fund it when there are multiple other federal agencies pursuing research. Any federal dollars going toward cancer research should flow from the National Cancer Institute or the National Institutes of Health, which can continually build on their cutting-edge developments within their sphere. A provision within the NDAA would ensure that all DOD medical research focuses on injuries or illnesses occurring in defense-related activities.  

On Tuesday, Lankford and Senator Mark Kirk (R-IL) introduced an amendment (#4085) to the NDAA to cut foreign aid for nations who lose track of terrorists formerly held at the US Guantanamo Bay detention facility in Cuba.