SALT LAKE CITY — Federal auditors say computer troubles and bad accounting practices are leading to inefficiency in the storage of U.S. military ammunition, including ammo stored in Utah at the Tooele Army Depot.
The General Accounting Office says in a new report that depots across the country have incompatible computer systems and other problems that prevent ammo from being tracked and shared.
The Salt Lake Tribune reports that in some cases, the accounting problems lead to ammunition being needlessly destroyed. That includes everything from .45-caliber bullets to missiles.
The GAO says it’s especially a problem at the Tooele Army Depot where staff must calculate storage space manually.
“Tooele officials said this process can often take up to a day,” the report said, “and, in the end, is still only an approximation of available space.”
The Department of Defense manages a stockpile of conventional ammunition valued at about $70 billion. A significant chunk of that is at the Tooele Army Depot.
It is the storage facility for the Army and much of the Department of Defense in the Western states and the Pacific. Most of the munitions are stored in concrete igloos built in the 1940s and 1950s. The Tooele Army Depot also destroys munitions deemed obsolete or otherwise unneeded.
According to Lt. Col Don Peters at Army public affairs, the Department of Defense has a $160 million annual budget for destroying munitions. In the current fiscal year, that money will pay to destroy 23.7 million items amounting to 82,700 tons of munitions.
Sam Dallstream, who works in Virginia at the munitions division for the Department of the Army, said the Army considers its options before destroying any weapons, from sharing it with other branches, to selling it or providing it as aid to a foreign military.
“We do make every effort to recycle, reuse or sell it before we destroy it,” Dallstream said.
The GAO report issued last week makes seven recommendations, including upgrading the Army accounting system and moving the Navy and Marines to the system. The Air Force already plans to join the Army system in 2017. The report also recommends requiring the Army to make annual reports on ammo available for redistribution or scheduled for disposal.