Pentagon Insider: Did the Pentagon Really Spend $160 Billion Wednesday?

Typos. Everybody makes ’em — even the United States Department of Defense. Ordinarily, of course, most people making typos aren’t juggling around a $500 billion-plus annual budget. When someone is, though… well, that’s when you wind up with a story like Wednesday’s news that a company with the little-known name of “Expal USA” won a contract worth “$155,884,655 037” — 155.9 billion dollars — to recycle, reuse, and dispose of military munitions for the U.S. Army.

“Oops” goes the Army
Now before this gets out of hand, let me state clearly: I’m about 99.99% certain this is a typographical error, and that the “037” part of that contract value got cut-and-pasted from another contract award discussed in the same Pentagon contracts update — specifically, General Dynamics’ (NYSE:GD) award to perform the same munitions recycling task for the Army for $225.6 million.

That said, there is still some real billion-dollar news at the Pentagon today, that we can discuss with a bit more certainty that it’s accurate.

Specifically, on Wednesday, the Pentagon announced it has awarded a $1.5 billion contract to National Aerospace Solutions LLC. The company, which appears to be a joint venture among privately-held Bechtel Corp and Sierra Lobo, and also publicly traded GP Strategies Corp (NYSE:GPX), was awarded these funds by the Air Force as part of an eight-year cost-plus-award-fee contract to perform unspecified “test operations, technology development, equipment and facility sustainment, capital improvements, and support” work for the U.S. Air Force.

Rounding out the day’s most interesting awards, privately-held DynCorp International was awarded an $18.3 million Navy contract to continue its work supporting the operations by the U.S. Joint Special Operations Task Force – Philippines through June of next year.

All told, the Pentagon awarded contracts worth $2.02 billion Wednesday. Unless it was $160 billion. Tomato, to-mah-to.

Insider trading notes
Adding to the day’s mysteries, despite booking a big Army contract win Wednesday, insider trading activity at General Dynamics is giving off decidedly mixed signals. Over the past three months, company insiders have placed far more buy orders than sells — 20 buys to just two sells, in fact. That said, the actual number of shares sold vastly outweighs the number contained in those more numerous buy orders. Over the past three months, insiders sold 142,835 more shares than they bought.

GPX, however, is a different story entirely. 15 insider open-market buys have been recorded by the SEC over the past three months, versus exactly zero sells. Total number of shares insider-bought: 29,013.

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