Deputy Defense Secretary William H. Taft IV was dressed down yesterday by Sen. Carl Levin (D-Mich.) for submitting testimony about military inventory management that came verbatim, in part, from testimony submitted by a Pentagon official over a year ago.
"I get a sense of deja vu when I come to these hearings on inventory control," Levin said, pointing to several pages of Taft's written testimony that were identical to a July 1986 statement by Maurice Shriber, then deputy assistant secretary of defense for logistics, to a Senate task force on the same subject.
"Whoever wrote this testimony should be chastised, absolutely, for tearing off -- without attribution -- chunks of another person's testimony from your department 1 1/2 years ago. That should never happen . . . . You are presenting this as current testimony," Levin said.
Taft, who appeared somewhat at a loss during Levin's remarks, responded that his testimony included new information and duplicated the earlier testimony in some areas because the Defense Department was continuing work on the same issues.
Taft added he did not write the testimony. "I was unaware of the extent to which it tracked earlier statements," he said.
More than half of Shriber's July 1986 testimony appears verbatim in Taft's 45-page statement to the Governmental Affairs Committee.
The hearing, chaired by Sen. John Glenn (D-Ohio), focused on reports from the General Accounting Office, the investigative arm of Congress, on continuing problems in the military services' procurement and inventory procedures.
The GAO has consistently criticized the Pentagon for poor inventory and purchasing controls.
GAO Comptroller General Charles A. Bowsher testified that the Army knows where its goods are only 44 percent of the time, in contrast with the Army's claims of 91 percent accuracy.