The U.S. Army has found itself in hot water again for spending too much to clean the mud off its trucks, tanks and other heavy combat equipment.

Since 1979, the Army has spent $44 million to build 12 identical heavy-duty outdoor carwash facilities at certain military bases, but a standard design that was intended to save money actually drove up the costs needlessly, the General Accounting Office has found.The GAO, an investigative arm of Congress, issued a report on the construction program at the request of Sen. William Proxmire, D-Wis., who had received allegations that the Army overdesigned the facilities and incurred unnecessary costs.

The GAO faulted the Army Corps of Engineers for failing to give enough "design guidance" to Army planners to adapt standardized plans for vehicle wash facilities to each military installation's specific needs and conditions.

For example, customary "pre-wash baths" that seek to loosen clay and dirt by using high-pressure water sprays are unnecessary at a facility planned at Fort McCoy, Wis., where sandy soil in the area does not adhere much to military vehicles and freezing winter weather limits the use of water cannons, the GAO said.