1033 Program FAQs
List of Frequently Asked Questions relating to the 1033 Program:
Where did the LESO/1033 Program come from and what is DLA’s role?
- The Defense Logistics Agency Disposition Mission
DLA has the Department of Defense mission of disposing of obsolete/unneeded excess property turned in by U.S. military units around the world. The type of property turned in ranges from military-specific equipment and vehicles to generic office furniture, computers, medical items and shop equipment. DLA Disposition Services, one of DLA’s major subordinate commands, disposes of this property in a variety of ways, including reutilization/transfer to other military components or federal agencies, donating through programs like computers for schools, destruction for scrap metal and resale to the general public.
- Excess property for Law Enforcement use
In the National Defense Authorization Act for fiscal years 1990 and 1991, Congress authorized the transfer of excess DoD property to federal, state and local law enforcement agencies. Congress later passed the NDAA for fiscal year 1997, which allows law enforcement agencies to acquire property for bona fide law enforcement purposes – particularly those associated with counter-drug and counter-terrorism activities. The program has been named in the press and elsewhere as the “1033 Program,” which refers to the numbered section of the 1997 NDAA that granted permanent authority to the Secretary of Defense to transfer defense material to federal, state and local law enforcement agencies.
The Law Enforcement Support Office, located at DLA Disposition Services Headquarters in Battle Creek, Michigan, is responsible for the management of the LESO/1033 Program and continues to make improvements for efficiency, cost effectiveness, transparency and inventory control.
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How many Law Enforcement Agencies are currently participating in the program?
As of June 2020, there are around 8,200 federal, state and local law enforcement agencies from 49 states and four U.S. territories participating in the program. A law enforcement agency is defined as a government agency whose primary function is the enforcement of applicable federal, state and local laws and whose compensated law enforcement officers have the powers of arrest and apprehension.
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How does a state participate in the program?
- Governor-appointed State Coordinators
For a state to participate, the governor must appoint in writing a state coordinator, who is responsible for ensuring proper oversight of participating law enforcement agencies from that state. Each state must also sign a Memorandum of Agreement with DLA’s LESO. The MOA outlines the responsibilities, rules and regulations that must be followed for continued participation in the program. A subsequent agreement called the State Plan of Operation must be signed between the state coordinator and any law enforcement agency that receives approval to participate in the program. The SPO mirrors the requirements found in the DLA MOA with the state. The SPO can also be a method for the state to place additional requirements on the state-level program. To find a listing of the state coordinators please visit: https://www.dla.mil/DispositionServices/Offers/Reutilization/LawEnforcement/SCLocatorMap.aspx
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How does a local police department or Sheriff’s department participate in the program?
- Law Enforcement Agency participation:
The Governor-appointed state coordinators approve and certify law enforcement agencies in their state and work with agencies regarding program participation, to include the State Plan of Operation mentioned above.
Once in the program, a law enforcement agency is able to review online the available excess DoD inventory that is suitable for law enforcement and make requests for property through the state coordinator. Law enforcement agencies do not pay for the property but must pay for shipping the items as well as potential storage costs. All excess DoD property is shipped "as is," and the law enforcement agency is responsible for all costs associated with acquisition, maintenance and costs to return the property when it is no longer needed.
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Who decides what equipment a Law Enforcement Agency can have?
- Approval process for property requests: Participating law enforcement agencies submit electronic requests to the state coordinator that thoroughly justifies the request for the available property. Requests that are approved by the state coordinator are routed to the LESO for further review. Every request for property must have a justification outlining how the property will be used; additionally, requests must be for bona fide law enforcement purposes. LESO relies on the state coordinator’s judgement in determining the rationale for a law enforcement agency’s request for property through the program, based on the size, mission and scope of the requesting law enforcement agency, and local considerations. The LESO staff in turn reviews the type of excess property being requested, quantities available, and justification before items are released from the excess property inventory.
Per the Memorandum of Agreement, state coordinators are responsible for maintaining property accountability records, investigating any alleged misuse of property and reporting MOA violations to DLA.
- Denials of property requests: In addition to a state coordinator or LESO denying a request based on insufficient justification, law enforcement agencies may be restricted from obtaining property if they are in a punitive status (i.e. restricted or suspended), or have limitations imposed on them by the Department of Justice, LESO or the state coordinator. Limitations may be due to a law enforcement agency already at their allocation limit for property, overdue actions related to accountability or other violations of the Memorandum of Agreement.
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What is the difference between “controlled” and “non-controlled” property?
- Controlled property: Consists of military items that are provided via a conditional transfer or “loan” basis where title remains with DoD/DLA. This includes items such as small arms/personal weapons, demilitarized vehicles and aircraft and night vision equipment. This property always remains in the LESO property book because it still belongs to and is accountable to DoD. When a law enforcement agency no longer wants the controlled property, it must be returned to DLA’s LESO for proper disposition.
Non-controlled property (also called General Property): Consists of common items DLA would sell to the general public, such as office equipment, first aid kits/supplies, hand tools, sleeping bags, computers and digital cameras. After one year, general property becomes the property of the law enforcement agency. It is no longer subject to the annual inventory requirements and is removed from the LESO database. This general property should be maintained and ultimately disposed of in accordance with provisions in state/territory and local laws that govern public property.
The vast majority of property issued to law enforcement agencies each year is non-controlled. In 2019 for example, 92 percent of property issued was non-controlled. Normally, small arms weapons make up about 5 percent and less than 1 percent of property issued is tactical vehicles.
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What controls or oversight does the program have in place?
Program Compliance: As outlined in the Memorandum of Agreement with state coordinators, DLA uses three primary ways to maintain and ensure compliance with all program requirements and property accountability:
- Annual Inventory: The MOA requires each state/territory to complete a 100% certified annual inventory each fiscal year.
- Program Compliance Reviews (PCRs): DLA’s LESO conducts a biennial federal-level compliance review on participating states where LESO personnel physically visits the states and inventories property of selected law enforcement agencies.
- State Coordinator Reviews: On an annual basis, the state must conduct state-level compliance reviews of at least 5% of law enforcement agencies that have property obtained via the program.
Suspensions due to non-compliance: If a state coordinator or law enforcement agency fails to comply with any terms of the MOA, federal statute, regulation or SPO, the state and/or law enforcement agency may be place on restricted or suspended status or may be terminated from the program.
- Restricted: a specified period of time in which a state/territory or law enforcement agency is restricted from receiving an item or commodity due to isolated issues with the identified commodity. Restricted status may also include restricting an agency from all controlled property. Restricted status is commonly used for agencies that have active consent decrees from the Department of Justice.
- Suspension: a specified period of time in which an entire state or law enforcement agency is prohibited from requesting or receiving additional property through the program.
- Termination: the removal of a state or law enforcement agency from participating in the program. The state coordinator and/or identified law enforcement agencies will transfer or turn-in all controlled property previously received through the program at the expense of the state and/or the law enforcement agency.
Local governing body oversight: As part of the application process, law enforcement agencies must receive approval from their relevant local governing body to request and obtain controlled property, which is required by 10 U.S. Code 2576a. Per the statute, law enforcement agencies must certify:
- They have obtained the authorization of the relevant local governing authority (city council, mayor, etc.).
- They have adopted publicly available protocols for the appropriate use of controlled property, the supervision of such use, and the evaluation of the effectiveness of such use, including auditing and accountability policies.
Controlled-equipment training: In 2015, Congress amended 10 USC 2576a to make it clear that each individual agency acquiring controlled equipment is responsible for training its personnel in the proper use, maintenance and repair. The law requires each law enforcement agency to certify on an annual basis that it provides annual training to relevant personnel on the maintenance, sustainment and appropriate use of controlled property.
Department of Justice coordination: DLA’s LESO coordinates with the Department of Justice to identify law enforcement agencies that are under DoJ investigation or under a consent decree. LESO uses DoJ data to validate authenticity and eligibility of law enforcement agencies and notifies DoJ on applications for enrollment in the program, on law enforcement agency suspensions/terminations, and on allocations of weapons, tactical vehicles and aircraft.
Transparency through public data base: DLA’s LESO maintains a public website page that links to a spreadsheet with the status of property issued to law enforcement agencies, listed by state. The spreadsheet serves as a quarterly snapshot of all LESO/1033 Program equipment currently under the control of a law enforcement agency.
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What excess military items are not available through the LESO/1033 Program?
DLA has determined that 133 federal stock classes of supply are prohibited for transfer to law enforcement agencies because of their tactical military characteristics.
Prohibited equipment includes: any aircraft, vessels or vehicles that inherently contain weaponry, (e.g. tanks, Bradley fighting vehicles, armed drones); crew served/large caliber (.50 cal or greater) weapons and ammunition; military uniforms; body armor; Kevlar helmets; and explosives or pyrotechnics of any kind. Also, aircraft and vehicles available in the program are “demilitarized,” meaning that any specific military technology (e.g. communication equipment) are removed prior to transfer to law enforcement agencies.
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In the media, I see military uniforms and equipment being used by civilian police forces. Is it safe to assume that equipment is coming from the LESO/1033 Program?
The LESO/1033 Program is just one way for law enforcement agencies to obtain military sourced equipment. The LESO/1033 Program handles excess military property for use by law enforcement agencies, but prohibits transfer of military uniforms, body armor, Kevlar helmets and the other items discussed above.
In addition to the LESO/1033 Program, law enforcement agencies can obtain military-style equipment from multiple federal government programs that provide support through grants or property transfers. These include the U.S. Department of Homeland Security Homeland Security Grant Program, the U.S. Department of Justice’s Justice Assistant Grant Program, the DOJ Equitable Sharing Program, the U.S. Department of the Treasury Forfeiture Fund’s Equitable Sharing Program and the General Services Administration Federal Surplus Personal Property Donation Program. Also, many police departments procure military-style equipment from the commercial market using their own internal funds.
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The press has reported that President Obama restricted the LESO/1033 Program and President Trump rescinded those restrictions. Is that true?
- President Obama’s Executive Order 13688
On January 16, 2015, President Obama issued Executive Order 13688, "Federal Support for Local Law Enforcement Equipment Acquisition" and established the Law Enforcement Equipment Working Group. The executive order applied to all federal government programs providing property to law enforcement, including the Departments of Homeland Security, Justice, Treasury and the General Services Administration, which provide support to law enforcement agencies through grants and property transfers. The working group provided recommendations to the president in the areas of prohibited and controlled equipment lists; policies, training and protocols for controlled equipment; acquisition process for controlled equipment; transfer, sale, return and disposal of controlled equipment and oversight, compliance and implementation.
The working group's recommendations were accepted by the president and became effective on Oct. 1, 2015. The prohibited equipment list went into effect as soon as the president received the recommendations.
Equipment on the prohibited list included tracked armored vehicles; weaponized aircraft, vessels and vehicles; .50-caliber firearms and ammunition; bayonets; camouflage uniforms and grenade launchers.
Of these prohibited items, LESO had only transferred three item types to authorized law enforcement agencies: tracked armored vehicles, M-79 Vietnam era single-shot grenade launchers and bayonets. LESO recalled these items and all were returned by April 1, 2016.
The numbers of prohibited items returned to LESO included:
- Tracked Armored Vehicles: 126
- Grenade Launchers: 138
- Bayonets: 1,623
View more information pertaining to the Executive Order recall on the Public Information page.
President Trump’s Revocation of Executive Order 1368
On August 28, 2017, the White House issued a “Presidential Executive Order on Restoring State, Tribal, and Local Law Enforcement’s Access to Life-Saving Equipment and Resources.” It revoked Executive Order 13688 and directed all executive departments and agencies “to cease implementing those recommendations and, if necessary, to take prompt action to rescind any rules, regulations, guidelines, or policies implementing them.”
With the revocation of Executive Order 13688, excess tracked armored vehicles and bayonets are no longer prohibited for transfer from LESO/1033 program to law enforcement agencies. For clarity, bayonets are utility knives which law enforcement officers keep in their vehicles for use during emergency situations, such as cutting away a seatbelt to free a trapped passenger. LESO stopped transferring grenade launchers to law enforcement agencies in 1999 and does not plan to resume transfer as they were identified as prohibited equipment by DoD in 1999.
Several of the Executive Order requirements were codified in the Fiscal Year 2016 National Defense Authorization Act, including local civilian governing approval for controlled items and certification of protocols on appropriate use, training, maintenance, sustainment, and audit/accountability. These measures remain in place for the LESO/1033 Program.
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I’ve read that over $7 Billion in property has been transferred to law enforcement agencies. Is that true?
That figure can be misleading. The cost associated with the LESO/1033 Program property is based on original acquisition value, i.e. what the procuring agency, normally a branch of the military, paid for the item at the time it was procured. Many of the items available in the excess property inventory were procured decades ago, so the current value, with depreciation, would be difficult (and not cost-effective) to determine. The original acquisition value is the only cost component available in current data systems. Using the initial acquisition value, the total amount transferred since the program’s inception in 1990 is $7.4 billion.
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I’ve read that an investigation uncovered the ability of a fake law enforcement agency to acquire weapons through the program. Is that true?
In 2017, Government Accountability Office investigators posed as a federal agency seeking to acquire property through the program. The ensuing report focused on the administration of the LESO/1033 Program for federal law enforcement agencies, which make up about 2 percent of the total law enforcement agency enrollment. While there had been significant controls and oversight in place for the state and local law enforcement agency participants, the GAO team revealed a risk with the federal application process. DLA’s LESO moved aggressively to address the shortfalls:
- DLA suspended all federal law enforcement agencies from the program.
- Required the federal agency at the headquarters level sign a Memorandum of Understanding with LESO.
- DLA’s LESO sent a representative to the headquarters of participating federal agencies to present the MOU and coordinate directly with agency representatives.
- Required federal agencies to appoint a “Federal Coordinator” to provide management and oversight of their participation in the program.
- Every law enforcement agency is now vetted through the National Crime Information Center database, ensuring the Originating Agency Identifier number is associated to the agency requesting enrollment into the program. An ORI number is distributed via the FBI Criminal Justice Information Services.
As stated in the response to the GAO report, DLA had already implemented recommendations listed in the report, and has adjusted policy, adding training and internal controls to ensure the federal program vulnerabilities were eliminated
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Members of Congress periodically introduce/pass legislation affecting the LESO/1033 Program. What is DLA’s response to this?
In 1997, Congress authorized DoD to make excess military equipment available to law enforcement as a way to maximize tax dollars and give law enforcement agencies additional support in counter-drug and counter-terrorism operations. DLA is responsible for the management of the LESO/1033 Program and continues to make improvements for efficiency, cost effectiveness, transparency and inventory control.
As lawmakers pursue policy goals regarding the disposition of excess military equipment through the legislative process, DLA will abide by all statutory and regulatory rules that are put in place.
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