Military Meals, Ready-To-Eat Sold on eBay

GAO-06-410R: Published: Feb 13, 2006. Publicly Released: Feb 13, 2006.

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Gregory D. Kutz
(202) 512-9505


Office of Public Affairs
(202) 512-4800

As a result of widespread congressional and public interest in the federal response to Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, we conducted a limited investigation into allegations that military Meal, Ready-To-Eat (MRE) rations intended for use in the hurricane relief efforts were instead sold to the public on the Internet auction site eBay. We focused our efforts on confirming whether selected MREs being offered for sale on eBay were military issue and, if so, interviewing the sellers to determine how they obtained the MREs.

In summary, after investigating 1 day of MRE sales on eBay, we found that 8 of 12 eBay sellers we investigated were selling MREs over the Internet. In addition, there is evidence that at least some of these MREs were diverted from hurricane relief efforts. Specifically, 2 of the MRE sellers, who were victims of Hurricane Katrina, accumulated cases of MREs during the relief efforts; however, rather than consume all of the MREs, they sold some of them on eBay. In addition, a member of the Georgia National Guard who was mobilized for Hurricane Katrina relief efforts may have stolen and sold MREs intended to feed other mobilized servicemembers. Because this National Guard member refused to provide information that would have corroborated his claim regarding how he obtained the MREs, we concluded that it is possible, and perhaps likely, that he obtained the MREs through unauthorized or improper means, such as theft. Although we cannot conclusively link the remaining five MRE sales to the hurricane relief efforts, our investigation revealed additional instances where sellers may have improperly obtained MREs and sold them to the public for private gain.

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