Pentagon pays $720M in late fees for storage containers

The Pentagon has spent more than $720 million since 2001 on fees for shipping containers that it fails to return on time, according to data and contracts obtained by USA TODAY.

Since 2001, the Pentagon has spent more than $720 million in late fees for shipping containers.

The containers –— large metal boxes stowed on ships and moved from port on trucks — are familiar sights on bases in Iraq and Afghanistan where troops use them for storage, shelter and building material. Yet each 20-foot container returned late can rack up more than $2,200 in late fees. Shipping companies charge the government daily container detention fees after the grace period ends for the box to be returned.

The $720 million represents a thin slice of the Pentagon’s $553 billion budget. Yet military spending is under intense scrutiny as the Defence Department has been ordered to trim $350 billion in spending over the next 10 years and could face steeper reductions from budget cutters — via

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