President Reagan and the $400 dollar hammer?

Label Me Liberal asked:

Does anyone remember back in the eighties when the pentagon paid a contractor over $400 dollars for a hammer?

Does anyone remember the name of the Democrat that broke the story?

Would everyone agree, this is a great example of privatizing government?

Would you agree this is another reason we cut funding from federal agencies in charge of regulating contracts such as this one?


The correct, non-politically motivated answer, is that the contract was for a large lot of spare parts for the Mk48 torpedo ILS (Integrated Logistics Support) contract. The RFP (Request for Proposal) requirements were for the allocation of NRE (Non-Recurring Engineering) across all deliverable line items, hence the apparent overcharge for hammers and a commensurate undercharge for ATE (Automatic Test Equipment.)

Label Me Mk48 Spares Program Manager

5 Answers

  • jehen
    Lv 7
    9 years ago
    Favorite Answer

    Strange at it seems there actually is an explanation for the $400 hammer - Government Requirements.

    Th military is not satisified with a hammer from ace hardware or Walmart.

    1. The hammer will have weight and size requirements that does not fit any off the shelf hammer and will have to be specially designed and made. Since they are only buying 100 and not 100,000 the cost of design and tooling is spread across those 100 hammers

    2. Reviews and test. The military will not accept any contractor material without proof of it being tested. Since it is the military and it might be subject to battle, heat, cold, flight, water, not to mention what it is for - pounding. So every hammer design must be battle tested, flight tested, water tested, pressure tested, stress tested, weather tested, and many of these tests are designend to destroy the hammer to verify tolerences. And yes, there will be a test for pounding in nails.

    3. Documentation - Since it is not off the shelf and it has to meet extreme requirements, there are reams and reams of documents - specs, tests, instructions, maintenance, engineering reviews, and approvals. Not just for the hammer - but for every design, requirement, manufacturing or usage change the military comes up with while under development.

    Now the Military is not going to buy a hammer like this for the carpentry shop. They will get a simple hammer from a US source and not pay a lot more than you would at Walmart. But if the hammer goes into a specialty tool kit that flies on a C17 or is part of the tool set maintaining a reactor in a nuclear sub, or used on the space station - it will probably be a $400 hammer - if not more.

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  • 3 years ago

    in no way innovations that, the Pentagon additionally paid $133 million each and each for a fleet of f-22 raptors, a airplane that relies upon on a doomed technologies and could't dogfight against a 40 million dollar Sukhoi. it rather is, as Eisenhower warned, the defense force-business complicated, pulling the strings of government to help itself. What did the Pentagon dudes care what they have been procuring the hammer, whilst the adult males they have been paying have been area of the same club? They gladly paid the money to maintain the marketplace in place as they waited for the subsequent conflict. you additionally can remember, with regard to the Reagan years, that Reagan did not have lots to do with the US defense force. He heated up the chilly conflict, authentic, yet that became very virtually the nukes and the imaginary missile protection. the defense force itself had not something to do different than attack damaging little Grenada and harass Muammar Qaddafi interior the Gulf of Sidra. whilst Reagan signed the beginning up treaty, it gave the MIC a heart attack very virtually. They made valuable GHW Bush observed Reagan into workplace, so he ought to proceed giving them an excuse to exist. Bush immediately invaded Panama, and then struck defense force gold with the Gulf conflict. After that, Clinton became downsizing them back, which they could not have, so as that they manipulated politics to create a clean enemy called "the terrorists." One reason the US defense force continuously underperforms is the recurring inflation of the products and amenities in Pentagon contracts. the uncomplicated subject is there is too many levels. If Lockheed wins a settlement, it rather is reason they lied approximately what they could do; then they ought to subcontract out to patch up their end, and their contractors ought to hire their own, etc. raising the final fee astronomically. The Pentagon often pays besides. With the f-22, amazingly, they finally axed it. good riddance. placed orbital vectored thrust on the f-35 as a substitute, for a airplane that could combat, not purely conceal.

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  • TK
    Lv 7
    9 years ago

    My late uncle used to work at Raytheon in Lexington, Massachusetts in the 70s, 80s and 90s. He told me that at the end of every fiscal year (not once or twice) Raytheon would get calls from people who worked at the Pentagon to "re-price" contracts for items that the military services had already procured earlier in the fiscal year. Their purpose was to exhaust every cent of their budgets before the end of the fiscal year so as not to undermine their budget requests for the next fiscal year, which were always larger because they always "needed" more money to fulfill their mission. Obviously if you have a budget surplus in the prior fiscal year it undermines your request for an increased budget in the next fiscal year.

    Having said all that, the $400 hammer or $1,000 toilet seat is a peacetime phenomenon when the military managers like civilian managers are looking for every lawful way to spend their entire budget before the end of the fiscal year. I would love to see some bonuses being handed out to those managers who don't spend all their budget, but government culture makes that an impossible proposition. So what you need to do is clearly criminalize that conduct and hope federal prosecutors get tips that leads to successful prosecutions and lengthy prison sentence for federal managers who engage in such duplicity.

    Just a thought.

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  • Jaded
    Lv 4
    9 years ago

    It has been quite a long time since then. I remember when the story broke and the outrage but the outrage led to nothing. There are articles upon articles of overcharging the government going on today. Nothing has changed. The reason nothing has changed is because our politicians have not changed.

    It seems as if it is all about the money. Profit and money.

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  • Anonymous
    9 years ago

    That is nothing compared to what Halliburton is charging the government for serving meals to soldiers in Iraq. To add insult to injury, Halliburton moved off shore to avoid paying corporate taxes.

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