Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) sent a letter to Defense Secretary James Mattis on March 14, 2018, calling for reforms to the DoD procurement systems. The Senator's grievances, which stemmed from a recent meeting of the Senate Budget Committee, of which he is the ranking member, focused on defense contractor compensation, defense contractor fraud, and cost overruns in the DoD's acquisition budget.
First, the Senator found issue with the executive compensation packages of the large defense contractors, specifically Lockheed Martin and Raytheon. Senator Sanders compared the Secretary of Defense’s salary, which is capped at $205,700, with the salaries and other compensation of Lockheed Martin and Raytheon’s CEOs, which in 2017 were approximately $19.4 million and $13.8 million, respectively. Senator Sanders expressed concern that the “exorbitant salaries” of defense contractor risked corporate interests taking precedence over taxpayer interests in policymaking.
Second, the Senator addressed defense contractor fraud, specifically the awarding of defense contracts worth billions of dollars to government contractors who have paid fines and settlements for fraud or misconduct.
Finally, Senator Sanders addressed the cost overruns in the acquisition budget. According to the GAO, $484 billion of the DoD's $1.46 trillion in procurement spending is attributable to cost overruns. The Senator asked Secretary Mattis what the Pentagon plans to do to hold defense contractors accountable for the overruns.
Although Senator Sanders’ letter does not augur any immediate changes for government contractors, his grievances are worth noting as they may eventually be attended to due to his national platform.