Critics fear that such wasteful spending will continue and worsen under the Homeland Security Act because, they say, the federal government is applying even less scrutiny to antiterrorism budgets than it did to defense programs at the height of its contract controversies. At that time, the price of a $7 claw hammer--officially termed a "uni-directional impact generator"--ballooned by $429 (not accounting for inflation), thanks to the government's byzantine accounting processes.
Coffee brewer: $7,622 (Air Force)
Pair of pliers: $748 (Air Force)
Vinyl armrest pad: $670 (Air Force)
Toilet seat: $640 (Navy)
Drill set: $599 (Navy)
Rechargeable flashlight: $181 (Air Force)
Sources: "The Pentagon Underground" (Dina Rasor, Times Books, 1985); congressional records; federal court documents.