Pentagon too broke to buy a new fax machine

Pentagon too broke to buy a new fax machine

The United States went ahead with major spending cuts earlier this year, slicing around $85 billion off the federal budget. But while most government offices remain afloat, a fax machine on the fritz may be too costly for the Pentagon to fix.

  Investigative journalists working for the website Muckrock.com have identified one side-effect  of the sequester that is only now starting to cause concerns. A  facsimile machine at Defense Department headquarters has  reportedly been out of commission for almost three weeks now and  is hindering the ability for reporters to file Freedom of  Information Act requests with the military.

Starting two weeks ago, requests faxed to the Office of the  Secretary of Defense (OSD) started coming back as undeliverable.  After several subsequent attempts and troubleshooting on our end,  MuckRock reached out to the OSD. Sure enough, their fax machine  is down,” journalist Shawn Musgrave wrote on the site last  week.

  What’s more, though, is that Musgrave reported that the fax  machine in question — the only one at the Pentagon handling FOIA  requests, according to him — may remain out-of-service for  another month, if not more.

  When Musgrave pressed the Pentagon to deliver an estimated date  when the machine might be back up and running, Defense Department  officials said that, should no replacement be immediately  available, the matter must wait until the start of the new fiscal  year.

We would that it is back up sometime in October, but could  extend into the beginning of November,” Aaron Graves of the  OSD replied to Muckrock.

It bears repeating,” Musgrave after that exchange.   “The office that oversees the most powerful military in  history (not to mention the best-funded) is unable to project  when its single fax machine will once again be operational.”

Meanwhile, the US military is budgeted to spend over one trillion  dollars in FY2012, and its in-progress F-35 fighter jet program —   the most expensive weapons system ever ordered — could come at a  price-tag that exceeds even that when all is said and done.

  Of course, that isn’t to say that a pesky fax problem isn’t the  only item at hand causing concerns in Washington. A study  released last week by Goldman Sachs suggested that as many as  100,000 federal jobs could disappear due to budget cuts during  the next year.

“[M]any federal agencies have employed temporary strategies to  adjust to sequestration this year, such as employee furloughs and  deferral of maintenance and training, with the hope that  sequestration would ultimately be reversed,” the report reads  in part. “If sequestration continues, more permanent  adjustments will become necessary and agencies may be more  willing to undertake them if Congress declines once again to  reverse the cuts.”

  In the meantime, journalists might want to go about sending their  FOIA requests the old fashioned way, or else resort to what  Musgrave called “a clunky online request portal that doesn’t  play nice with other systems.”

And if that doesn’t work, someone might want to tell the Pentagon  that the Best Buy down the road can have a brand-new Panasonic  laser fax/copier in stock within days for only around $150.

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