Jul 27, 2017
Press Release

WASHINGTON - Today, Rep. Joe Wilson (R-SC), Chairman of the House Armed Services Subcommittee on Readiness, made the following remarks, as prepared for delivery, on the Subcommittee's hearing titled “Continued Oversight of the Transfer of Excess Military Equipment to Civilian Law Enforcement Agencies.” For testimony and to watch the hearing click here.  

"Ladies and gentlemen, I welcome you all here today, and call this hearing of the House Armed Services Committee, Readiness Subcommittee, on 'Continued Oversight of the Transfer of Excess Military Equipment to Civilian Law Enforcement Agencies' to order.

One of the objectives of this subcommittee is to bring attention to matters that impact the overall readiness of the Department of Defense.  This includes programs or activities which face management challenges, present budget implications, or could be administered more efficiently. Whatever the root causes, it is our goal to provide necessary oversight in order to ensure our armed forces achieve the highest levels of readiness possible. Given the current threats facing our nation and the budgetary pressure placed on the Department of Defense, accountability is paramount and every dollar counts.  Vigorous oversight can help ensure that mistakes don’t happen and when they inevitably do, we learn lessons from these missteps.

For this reason, I am pleased to convene this hearing today on the recent Government Accountability Office report highlighting deficiencies found with the management and operation of the Law Enforcement Support Office (LESO) within the Defense Logistics Agency.  The LESO is responsible for the '1033 Program' which has provided tremendously valuable resources to our federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies since 1991.  These necessary items have contributed to law enforcement’s ability to conduct counter-narcotics, counter-terrorism, and border security missions throughout the United States and ensure that items already paid for by the taxpayer continue to 'protect and serve' the citizens of the United States.

Earlier this month, the GAO report stated that the DLA managed LESO program inappropriately assigned more than 100 controlled items with an estimated value of $1.2 million. This revealed deficiencies in the process for verification and approval of federal law enforcement agency applications and in the transfer of controlled property. The Department of Defense, DLA, and the LESO program must improve its monitoring, management, and administration of this critical program. I read the GAO recommendations very carefully and applaud DLA for taking a very pro-active approach to addressing the shortfalls and immediately acknowledging the problems identified.

I look forward to hearing what progress DLA has made in continuing to remedy these various deficiencies. Our oversight intends to ensure taxpayer dollars are used responsibly, security is maintained for sensitive items, and accountability of equipment is never taken for granted.

Our panel will address the findings and recommendations of the GAO report as well as the actions taken by DLA to correct identified deficiencies.

I am pleased to recognize our witnesses today.  I thank them for taking the time to be with us.  We have:

• Ms. Zina Merritt
Director, Defense Capabilities and Management
Government Accountability Office

• Mr. Wayne McElrath
Director, Forensic Audits & Investigative Service
Government Accountability Office

• Mr. Mike Scott
Deputy Director of Logistics Operations
Defense Logistics Agency

• Mr. Mike Cannon 
Director, DLA Disposition Services
Defense Logistics Agency

We will now hear opening statements from each organization."