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

GGD-82-40: Published: Apr 21, 1982. Publicly Released: Apr 21, 1982.

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Arnold P. Jones
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GAO reviewed Department of Justice small arms ammunition contracts for fiscal years 1981 and 1982 to identify restrictive conditions and specifications in large, recurring procurements.

Justice is currently purchasing only new ammunition. The GAO review showed that about $115,000 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 Justice 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) 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 Justice could insure quality performance without restricting competition or incurring excessive costs.

Recommendation for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Not Implemented

    Comments: Treasury's major concerns, with respect to the use of firearms, are safety and confidence. It is incongruous to risk the safety and confidence of law enforcement agents for relatively insignificant monetary savings. It will continue to insist that it be provided with top quality ammunition and equipment for training as well as for official duty.

    Recommendation: The Department of Justice should use reloaded ammunition for a test period at its major training facility in Quantico, Virginia. The Justice Management Division, Procurement Management Staff, should work with the firearms technical staffs in the bureaus to develop specifications for the reloaded ammunition.

    Agency Affected: Department of Justice


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