Procurement Costs of Ammunition Used for Practice and Training Can Be Reduced

GGD-82-39: Published: Apr 21, 1982. Publicly Released: Apr 21, 1982.

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Arnold P. Jones
(202) 512-7797


Office of Public Affairs
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GAO reviewed the Department of the Treasury's small arms ammunition contracts for fiscal years 1981 and 1982 to identify restrictive conditions and specifications in large, recurring procurements.

Treasury is currently purchasing only new ammunition. The GAO review showed that about $80,000 could be saved each year if quality reloaded ammunition were used for training and practice instead of new ammunition. These savings would be realized without any adverse effect on training program standards, and Treasury would be using safe, reliable, and accurate ammunition. Reloaded ammunition is produced on the same machines using the same process and, except for the cartridge case, with the same new components as new ammunition. In reloaded ammunition, a used cartridge case without defects is manufactured to original specifications. A controversy exists among ammunition experts as to the: (1) potential problems and dangers associated with reloaded ammunition; (2) potential damage to weapons; (3) ability to identify production lots which contain problem ammunition for return to manufacturers for replacement; (4) ability of reloaded ammunition to meet specifications; and (5) the possibility that reloaded cartridges with cracked cases might cause injuries to shooters. Many law enforcement agencies have used reloaded ammunition without significant problems. GAO found that, if the same standards were required for reloaded ammunition as are required for new ammunition, there would be no reason for more problems to occur with reloaded ammunition than with new ammunition, and Treasury could insure quality performance without restricting competition or incurring excessive costs. GAO also found that Treasury needs to exercise more control over spent cartridge cases.

Recommendation for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Not Implemented

    Comments: Treasury will improve its procedures for the collection and salvage of spent cartridge cases as suggested by GAO. Treasury feels that the use of reloaded ammunition is not technically or economically feasible and, therefore, it does not plan to pursue further the use and testing of reloaded ammunition.

    Recommendation: The Department of the Treasury should use reloaded ammunition for a test period at selected large training facilities, such as the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center. Treasury's Office of Procurement should work with the firearms technical staffs in the bureaus to develop specifications that would allow the procurement of safe, reliable, and accurate reloaded ammunition without restricting competition. Treasury should also improve procedures at its major training facilities for the collection and salvage of spent cartridge cases.

    Agency Affected: Department of the Treasury


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