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As we previously discussed in a recent article here on SurplusBusiness.Com, titled “How Local Police Recieve Military Surplus — The 1033 Program“, the subject of law enforcement agencies receiving military surplus items and equipment via the 1033 program has, as of late, and due to fairly recent events which have made national news, become somewhat of a hot-button issue.
The internet has been awash with public questioning, and, in many cases, outright condemnation of the program. Why, people are asking, do small-town sheriff’s departments — ones which might preside over a town populated by no more than a few thousand people, perhaps — need to acquire fully armored military vehicles, and other such types of combat-style gear and equipment — from the United States Armed Forces? Understandably, with the increasing commonality of such acquisitions recently brought to light, and into the awareness of the public at large, people have been asking if such a program truly does serve the public’s best interests — or, instead, might it be working much more effectively to promote and facilitate the development of an uncomfortably oppressive state of law enforcement?
Well, now, it appears that the President has ordered a review of the programs through which the acquisition of military surplus items — such as weapons and other types of military equipment — by various law enforcement agencies is made possible.
A senior official in the Obama administration has stated that the President has ordered the review in order to assess:
“whether state and local law enforcement are provided with the necessary training and guidance; and whether the federal government is sufficiently auditing the use of equipment obtained through federal programs and funding.”
The official also added that the upcoming review would seek out, and include, the participation and input of agencies such as The National Security Council, The Domestic Policy Council, The Office of Management and Budget, along with the Department of Defense, Department of Justice, The Department of Homeland Security, and the Treasury Department.
For quite some time now many people have been raising concerns regarding what appears to be the ever increasing militarization of local law enforcement agencies throughout the U.S. And, of course, the recent events which took place in Ferguson. Mo., have brought these concerns squarely into the view of many citizens who may not have paid them much attention in the past.
During the public protests taking place in Ferguson, following the fatal shooting of an unarmed Michael Brown by Ferguson Police Officer Darren Wilson, citizens involved in the civil unrest were met by law enforcement equipped with armored combat vehicles, military-grade combat body-armor, and some military issue weaponry — all of which was obtained under the 1033 program, of which Obama appears to have now ordered a review.
The decision on the part of the Office of the President to bring forth such a review, of course, should really come as no surprise — seeing as how, as previously mentioned, the subject has drawn such critical attention from the public, and from some public service agencies and watch-dog groups. Back in June of this year, for instance, the ACLU published a report sternly warning of what it perceived to be an excessive and increasingly prevalent move toward the militarization of law enforcement agencies occurring throughout the country.
Online video sharing sites, such as Youtube, are now overwhelmingly replete with citizen captured videos of local police agencies executing over-the-top military style actions and tactics in the serving out of what used to be commonly considered as rather mundane tasks. One doesn’t need to dig very far to view multiple incidents of SWAT divisions from local law enforcement agencies, decked in full combat gear, executing violent no-knock entries for what is, in many cases, somewhat petty infractions.
In 1990 the United States Congress gave authorization to the Pentagon to begin distributing military surplus items to local and state police departments and law enforcement agencies. The regulations and guidelines for such authorization was laid out in the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Years 1990 and 1991. In this act, Congress granted authorization, under what’s referred to as “the 1033 program”, to the Department of Defense, to transfer excess military property to both federal and state law enforcement agencies, for the purpose of helping to fight the war on drugs. In 1997, the program was expanded to allow all law enforcement agencies — even those at local, municipal levels — to acquire surplus military goods from the Department of Defense. The program was expanded with the passing of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 1997.
With this new expansion, law enforcement agencies were granted the ability to acquire surplus military items which would aid them in carrying out any legitimate police operations — with preference for distribution going to agencies seeking to use such surplus items in order to fight drug trafficking and in assisting in counter-terrorism operations.
In 1995, the overseeing and operations of the 1033 program was placed under the jurisdiction of the Defense Logistics Agency. And, this agency, through the DLA Disposition Service‘s Law Enforcement Support Office, headquartered in Battle Creek, Michigan, is responsible for overseeing the carrying out of the distribution of such military surplus items to this day.
The military items that have thus far been distributed to various state and local law enforcement agencies through the Defense Department’s 1033 program pretty much run the gamut — from armored military Humvees, to fully automatic weapons, state of the art night-vision gear, and pretty much any other sorts of surplus military equipment you can think of.
The program was started by Congress out of a pressing concern that local and state law enforcement agencies, back in the late 1980’s and early 1990’s, were finding themselves severely outgunned and out-equipped by drug-trafficking organizations. And so, with a great many of the smaller law enforcement agencies in the country also drastically underfunded and possessing little hope of adequate budget increases necessary for obtaining equipment required to match firepower with such clandestine organizations, Congress passed the 1033 program with the aim of allowing law enforcement agencies the ability to acquire military style weapons and equipment at no cost.
To date, around thirteen-thousand different law enforcement agencies throughout the country have participated in the program, and have used the 1033 program to acquire an estimated four-billion dollars worth of surplus military gear.
In most cases, of course, much of the surplus military gear is used as the originators of the program had intended for it to be used — to help law enforcement agencies fight legitimate crime. And, of course, much of it is also used to directly aid the public. For instance, not all of the surplus military items acquired are offensive in nature — in fact, only a small portion of it, around 5%, according to the DLA, are actually weapons, or offensive equipment — the vast majority of the items received by police agenciesm according to the DLA, are things like military surplus blankets, first aid supplies, and other such items. However, critics are now raising concern that some of the items obtained by local police is being misused — that law enforcement agencies are using the surplus military gear they obtain, the critics say, to militarize their agencies and turn offensive military equipment toward control and suppression of the public.
The recent events in Ferguson, Missouri, in particular, has brought into the public eye this militarization of American police agencies. Critics say that the 1033 program is being abused and used by police and law enforcement for purposes other than it was originally intended — that police are using items obtained through the program not in the public interest, not in suppressing crime, but as tools of public oppression. And, one must admit, the images of military-style cammo-outfitted police officers with sniper rifles trained on crowds of American citizens that have been an all too common site in the news recently is quite disconcerting.
Many critics, and probably rightfully so, are becoming increasingly concerned with this apparent militarization of police forces throughout the country. Representative Hank Johnson, a Democrat Congressman from Georgia, has said that he will introduce legislation before Congress this coming September with an aim to curb the practice and reign in this apparent militarization of local police agencies — making it either more difficult for such agencies to acquire things like assault weapons and military style armored vehicles, or, when acquired, to use such items in ways which the original legislation did not intend.
So, you’ve started your own home business or small business — or, at least, you’ve finally made the decision to do so — and now you find yourself in need of all the required supplies. Of course, if you’re just starting out, your budget is quite likely to be somewhat on the lean side, and the cost of acquiring the necessary supplies to get your new small business off on the right foot can be somewhat costly. Luckily, there are methods for obtaining very good quality business supplies for much less than you’d regularly expect to pay — and, I do mean MUCH less! Acquiring such supplies via government surplus is one of the top options available to you.
Acquiring much needed business supplies from government surplus sources has long been a well established means of outfitting a small or home business with exceptional quality items while still managing to save a significant amount of money and, thus, going a long way in helping to keep your business’s budget from creeping into the red.
Practically anything your business might need in order to operate efficiently is regularly sold off by the government through surplus channels — if your business needs it, chances are that some government surplus outlet has it up for sale right now, or soon will. And, practically all of it is sold at or below cost, or below wholesale – sometimes significantly so. Sometimes they even practically give it away.
Whenever some government agency, either at the municipal, state, or federal level finds itself with extra items, supplies or equipment that they no longer require these items will sometimes be destroyed in some fairly rare circumstances, shipped to another government agency that may have use for the items, or, very often, sold off to non-government individuals or entities through public or private sales, or through public or private auctions.
The particular government agency offering surplus goods for sale will utilize different means and methods for selling off these goods. They may hold a public auction which members of the public may attend and place bids on the various items for sale. But, today, more and more, many government branches and departments are turning to on-line, electronic means for conducting such sales — even when their wish is to auction such items to the highest bidder. Some governmental organizations have even been known to use eBay in order to sell their wares. However, most now regularly utilize dedicated, government run services and electronic, on-line, central sales outlets.
The majority of state governments now employ the use of some sort of central auction and/or sales website that members of the public may visit, browse the items currently up for grabsm and place bids on the items they’re interested in. Many municipal governments are now doing the same sort of thing as well. However, with federal government, there is still no such entirely comprehensive, all-in-one, central on-line service maintained by any one central branch. Instead, there are a number of governmental departments responsible for the selling off of surplus goods and items from various areas of government.
The General Services Administration, or GSA, is tasked with getting rid of the bulk of items and property that a number of areas of government find themselves no longer in need of. But, the Defense Department takes care of their own surplus sales and does not use the services of the GSA in most cases. Along with that, various federal level law enforcement agencies also run their own surplus auctions, sales and property disposal.
The following information is already readily available on SurplusBusiness.Com, but we’ll include it here briefly again for easy access. Here’s a quick run-down of some government surplus related Internet sites that you’ll most certainly find exceedingly useful in helping you to save money while procuring the supplies your business requires to operate effectively and efficiently:
Govsales.Gov – This is the official on-line Federal Asset Sales Portal for the United States Federal Government. Operated by the General Services Administration, it contains a comprehensive, searchable and browseable, listing of most surplus items currently available for sale, or at auction, from a vast array of different federal government departments and sources. At any given time you’re likely to find just about anything from soup to nuts being offered up for sale from the federal government on this site — from fully functional helicopters, to pens and pencils. From high-tech medical equipment, to coffee-makers and work boots.
Gov-Auctions.Org – An exhaustive, all-in-one on-line resource comprising the largest single source of all state-level, and federal, US government surplus auctions including government surplus pre-owned and seized cars, trucks, SUVs, boats, real-estate and a wide array of personal property items — all at up to 95% off book-value on many of the individual items being offered.
DispositionServices.Dla.Mil – Home page for the U.S. Defense Logistics Agency Disposition Services. This website makes available surplus items, goods and property obtained from the various branches of the U.S. military. Don’t skip over this valuable resource if you’re not interested in strictly military-style items, however. The military uses a great deal of items that aren’t immediately associated with being strictly military items, and any excess goods that have been owned by any branch of the military and is now available for surplus sale is offered on this site. It is not at all uncommon to find incredible deals on things like office supplies, kitchen supplies, furniture, and much else on this site — along, of course, with all of the standard military surplus fare.
GovernmentAuctions.Org – An incredible and valuable private government auctions listing service. This powerful resource keeps track of all upcoming federal, state an local government surplus auctions and keeps you informed, ahead of time, on all such events that will be taking place in your area, and elsewhere. If you’re thinking of making money by acquiring surplus goods and flipping them for a profit, this resource is absolutely indispensable for providing you with the upper edge you’ll need to maximize your chances of success — get a leg up on the competition by being kept informed of the most obscure of government sales in order to take advantage of the very lowest of surplus prices.
U.S. Marshals Service Assets Forfeiture Service – Home page for information regarding the sales of seized and forfeited property available through the U.S. Marshall’s Service. This Internet site contains listings of currently available seized and forfeited real estate, vehicles and other property that the U.S. Marshall’s Service has available for public auction.
Insider Wholesale & Surplus Products – Government agencies aren’t the only places available to you for acquiring goods, items and property at incredible, far-below wholesale surplus prices. There is a wealth of commercial retail and private sources that you should be informed regarding. This site contains all of the information you’ll need to learn about such avenues and take advantages of the incredible deals available through them.
United States Treasury Real Property Auctions – This website is operated by the U.S. Treasury Department and lists auctions of seized Real Property currently for sale throughout the country. Listings regularly include all manner of both residential and commercial buildings, land and property — including single and multi-family dwellings, commercial warehouse buildings, commercial retail properties, even fully operating businesses that you can purchase and take over.
IRS Real and Personal Property Sales – This website, operated by the United States Internal Revenue Agency lists all items currently up for sale or auction to the public that have been seized due to tax defaults. Items regularly offered include just about anything you can think of — from clothing, to jewelry, to automobiles, office equipment, furniture, artwork, real estate, etc., etc., Anything that has value and has been seized by the IRS can be found offered for sale to the public on this website.
It appears there is a rather widespread misunderstanding these days that people who might hold an interest in various outdoor activities, live action military style gamers and the recently expanding population of “Preppers” and survivalists, need to acquire their gear brand new at high-priced sporting goods outlets. Of course it’s true that using brand new, top name-brand gear from the most prestigious manufacturers is desirable. But, is the added cost that comes with the prestige of using gear that sports manufacturing labels from highly regarded commercial suppliers really worth it? Especially when you consider that in this particular industry, a rather unique option is available which can provide the consumer with exceedingly high quality used goods at a much reduced cost.
I’m speaking, of course, about military issue surplus items and equipment. And, the items they offer as surplus goods should be well considered by preppers and sportsmen looking to add to their list of gear — especially if money currently happens to be tight. Military organizations, after all, really are expertly experienced ‘preppers’ themselves. Thus, the equipment they use for their own purposes are of the highest quality available. And, when those items become marked for surplus, they are often made available to the public at bargain prices.
Western military organizations specifically require the equipment they use to be of the most rugged stock available. In an active combat scenario, which military orgs must prepare for, if equipment fails then lives get lost. The stakes are exceedingly high. And so, very little expense is often spared when it comes to building their equipment tough. Military organizations spend an exceptional amount of money, expertise, effort and man-hours in making sure the items they equip their personnel with can endure the utmost abuse, harshest of conditions, and overuse. They make sure the equipment is simple to use or operate, is as unencumbersome as is possible, and is highly efficient at fulfilling the need it is required to fulfill. Military goods are engineered and designed to work, and to work well for a very long time.
Along with this, of course, is the added benefit that exactly this type of gear, when made available at surplus to the public, is almost always available at exceedingly low cost when compared to the same type of new commercial gear.
But, why should such well made gear be made available for such little comparative cost? There’s basically two reasons for this: The first is that the military is a volume buyer, and so they usually originally obtain their equipment through contract buys at the lower end of wholesale cost. Whereas a sporting goods store might be able to purchase an inventory of, say, camo rain ponchos at a wholesale cost of, say, $35.00 per poncho, the military, because of the volume discounts they enjoy from the manufacturer, might be able to obtain rain ponchos of equal, or even better, quality at a wholesale cost of just $15.00 per item. Now, of course, the commercial supplier will mark-up the new item by a certain percentage — usually 50% is the absolute minimal markup commercial retailers like to aim for. So, your price for the new item from the sporting goods store is a total of $52.50 at the lowest. Whereas, the military obtained their ponchos for a much lower price and does not mark-up their product. Instead of paying $50.00 or more, you’re much more likely to obtain these military surplus ponchos at a price closer to $15.00, or even much less.
The second reason is that the military are not retailers, nor distributors. They’re not in the business of selling off goods. They’re not in the business of making money in such a manner. Their incentive in selling off military surplus items to the public doesn’t lie in turning a profit for themselves. Their incentive merely lies in getting rid of excess items and freeing storage space, and associated costs, in order to make way for their new incoming equipment. The incentive, therefore, on the part of the military, to go after the highest possible price they can get for their surplus goods isn’t the same as it is for commercial dealers.
The military has their tax-payer funded budget that’s buying them new equipment — whether they turn a profit or not, or how much money they earn from the sales of their excess inventory — they’re still going to get their new gear, and they need to make room for it. So, their incentive is to get rid of stuff quickly, with the least amount of handling on the part of the military organization as is possible. And, the way to do that, of course, is to sell it off cheap.