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GAO report: Pentagon has not considered contractors' climate change risks

F-35 fighter planes are on the Lockheed Martin assembly line in Fort Worth, Texas. A Government Accountability Office report said on Monday that the Pentagon is not considering contractors' risks involving climate change. Photo courtesy of Lockheed Martin 
F-35 fighter planes are on the Lockheed Martin assembly line in Fort Worth, Texas. A Government Accountability Office report said on Monday that the Pentagon is not considering contractors' risks involving climate change. Photo courtesy of Lockheed Martin 

July 27 (UPI) -- The Pentagon has not taken contractors' risks because of climate change into account, a Government Accountability Office report released Wednesday says.

The 45-page report notes that the Defense Department has regarded climate change as a threat to operations since 2010. The report details a review of acquisition and supply processes, as well as mission assurance processes, to protect or ensure the function of capabilities and assets critical to the department's missions.

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The review found that the Defense Department "has not routinely assessed climate-related risks faced by its contractors as part of its acquisition and supply processes," and that typical processes to spot potential supply chain problems "do not systematically identify and consider climate-related risks to materiel acquisition and supply or the acquisition of weapon systems."

A 2016 Pentagon order calls for assessment by military branches with consideration of potential vulnerabilities caused by climate change, but officials told the GAO that the directive has not been implemented. Leading defense contractors were also consulted for Monday's GAO report, who told the watchdog agency that steps to track climate change and its effects have been taken internally.

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"Our review of publicly available disclosures by leading DoD contractors showed that some contractors make climate-related disclosures in filings with the SEC [Securities and Exchange Commission]," the report says, an indication that information is readily available to the Defense Department.

The report was sent on Monday to Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., and Sen. Jack Reed, D- R.I., who are on the Senate Armed Services Committee. It offers six recommendations; notably that the Defense Department should incorporate climate adaptation into its acquisition and supply guidance and issue or update guidance on mission assurance-related assessments for contractors.

A Defense Department letter, added to the report in an appendix, said that it concurred with four suggestions, noting that it is investigating vulnerabilities. It added that industry "is best postured" to deal with climate change issues regarding contractors, and mission assurance of all commercial facilities is beyond the Defense Department's scope.

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