AOAV: all our reportsUS Department of Defence arms contracts

US DoD contract analysis: a case study of confusion

This report is part of AOAV’s investigation into the DoD’s small arms expenditure during the War on Terror. Our research found many discrepancies between the contracts published on the DoD’s website and those found on the Federal Procurement Database System- research that can be read here. For information on what a small arm is, please see here. To understand more about US DoD contracts visit here. The investigation also included an examination of US expenditure for small arms for Iraq, which can be read here, and Afghanistan, see here.


AOAV contract announcementThe contract listed to the left was published by the US Department of Defence on the 14 February, 2005.  It is typical in that it lists the first delivery order amount of the contract (some $29 million worth) and the total of the entire firm-fixed-price contract (some $174 million).

It is slightly different from many DoD contract announcements, though, in that it details the purchase of AK-47 rifles (a weapon not routinely used by the US military. The AK is more commonly used by Russian and Chinese forces, as well as by many militant groups worldwide).

Question marks are immediately raised – why were such weapons bought by the US government from a company based in Jordan? Were they for the Jordanians, or for Iraqi forces, or even other non-State actors in the region?

Internatonal Trading EstablishmentThis question mark looms large throughout. An analysis of the Federal Procurement Database System (right) shows a number of contracts were issued to the company awarded this contract – International Trading Establishment.

It is a company that lists customers including the governments of Jordan, Kuwait, Saudi, UAE and Iraq. The FPDS lists this company as one that specialises in ‘TRUCK TRAILER MANUFACTURING’ even though all the payments to it were listed as ‘GUNS, THROUGH 30MM’.

The FPDS, however, shows no money being issued on Feb 14, 2005, despite the DoD announcement.  In fact, the FPDS only lists contract payments under contract number W56HZV05D0126 totalling $52,883,723.20  – not the stated $173,432,311 by the DoD.

We do not know why this shortfall occurred; whether it means that the DoD announced contract covered payments not listed on the FPDS, whether the contract total was not fulfilled by the US government, or whether payments were issued, but under a different contract number.

In many ways, then, this contract sums up some of the fundamental questions raised by the DoD contract announcements.  The DoD gives us a brief peek behind the procurement curtain of the US military, but it leaves many questions unanswered.  Million dollar contracts remain largely lacking in transparency and official data seems often contradictory or unaligned – a fact repeated in 33% of all of the DoD contracts we examined.


For the data on 14 years of DoD contracts for small arms, ammunition and attachments, please go here.