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Large Agency Purchases of Ammunition Questioned by House Panel

Lawmakers last week held a joint hearing to look into ammunition purchases by the Department of Homeland Security and the Social Security Administration’s Office of Inspector General.

On Thursday, federal law enforcement officials testified before the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform to discuss the agency’s procurement of ammunition. Last year, controversy arose after reports surfaced that the SSA-OIG placed an order for 174,000 rounds of hollow point bullets to use in the training and arming of its 295 special agents.

 

Defending the SSA-OIG’s large ammunition purchases, Patrick O’Carroll, Inspector General at SSA, commented that the bulk purchases were necessary in order to pursue its law enforcement purpose.

“While the SSA-OIG is one of the largest OIGs, it is by no means unique,” stated O’Carroll. “Our counterparts in almost every other OIG have sworn federal law enforcement agents conducting criminal investigations, making arrests and carrying weapons. In fact, we obtained over 1,400 criminal convictions last year, physically making 552 arrests, while completing 7,833 criminal investigations.”

“These investigations bring our agents into contact with violent felons, angry subjects, and frightened witnesses,” O’Carroll continued. “To ask our agents to do so unarmed would be irresponsible, unfair to them and their families, and dangerous to the public.”

Jon Adler, national president of the Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association, also testified on behalf of federal law enforcement officers, defending the amount of ammunition federal agencies keep in storage.

“We never want to get caught empty,” Adler said. “We can’t even come close to that. There has to be a formula where we balance the amount we keep in storage and the amount we need for…operational purposes.”

“Are they storing too much?” Adler asked. “Well they’re not storing too much if they account for it and use it systemically.”

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