Government Accountability Office investigators posing as private citizens were able to buy sensitive excess military equipment from a Department of Defense logistics agency, a GAO report obtained by NBC News shows.
The equipment included two launcher mounts for shoulder-fired guided missiles, two guided missile radar test sets, ceramic body armor inserts currently used by deployed troops in Iraq and Afghanistan, a digital signal converter used in naval surveillance, an all-band antenna used to track aircraft and 12 digital microcircuits used in F-14 fighter aircraft.
GAO identified at least 79 buyers of 2,669 sensitive items between November 2005 and June 2006.
GAO made purchases as recently as last month and was able to purchase some new and unused items at a fraction of the cost military units currently purchase them for. The department controls what can be sold, and the logistics agency carries out the transaction.
U.S. officials point out that sensitive Defense Department military surplus items have been illegally exported to China and Iran.
The investigation was a follow-up to GAO's May 2005 report that found $466 million in lost, damaged and missing excess Defense Department property from fiscal year 2002-FY 2004.
A hearing is scheduled on the issue Tuesday before the House National Security, Emerging Threats and International Relations Subcommittee. The hearing is entitled "DOD Excess Property: Inventory Control Breakdowns Present a Security Risk."