In the film Independence Day, President Thomas Whitmore, played by Bill Pullman, is absolutely stunned to learn that the Defense Department had constructed a massive complex, known as Area 51, to hide the existence of aliens.
“I don’t understand, where does all this come from?” he asks. “How do you get funding for something like this?” Julius Levinson (Judd Hirsch) sarcastically replies, ”You don’t actually think they spend $20,000 on a hammer, $30,000 on a toilet seat, do you?”
While there isn’t an alien threat (or is there?), the Defense Department has become rife with waste. Businessweek takes note of a recent Government Accountability Office that documents the spending problems at the Pentagon:
Across the military, the average major Pentagon acquisition comes in at 40 percent over budget, according to a recent report from the Government Accountability Office. In spite of the Pentagon’s well-documented history of profligacy, the Congress continues to enlarge its responsibilities. The DOD’s mandate now includes wide-ranging scientific and medical research and international infrastructure projects, diffusing the focus on its core mission—like buying planes that don’t set themselves afire on the runway. That’s a disservice to America’s military and a burden to the country’s taxpayers.