Pentagon racks up US$721 million in late fees for containers


Data and contracts obtained by USA Today show the Pentagon has paid more than US$720 million for late fees on shipping containers in recent years.

The fees peaked in 2004 at $128 million, dropped to $17 million by 2008, but rose to $30 million in 2010, in line with the troop surge in Afghanistan, USA Today reported.
“This is real money,” John Pike executive director of, a defense policy group, told USA Today. “And we’ve spent a lot of it on what amounts to fines for overdue library books.”

Used for shelter and storage in Iraq and Afghanistan, and the containers are ubiquitous downrange. When they are not returned, shipping companies charge daily late fees, the newspaper wrote.

The cost stems from the mistaken belief that the two would be brief and late fees would be minimal, Pike said.

With massive defense spending cuts underway, the late fees represent some of the wasteful spending that military officials and others say must be stopped.