America spared no expense in its ramp-up to war in 1941, awarding more than $10 billion in defense contracts. Abuse began almost immediately: after getting wind of misuse and profiteering, Senator Harry Truman began visiting military installations and war plants from coast to coast, where he found egregious mismanagement of funds. (At Missouri's Fort Leonard Wood, for instance, he found workers being paid to sit idly while pricey supplies and equipment deteriorated.) By March 1941 he was heading up the Senate's Special Committee to Investigate the National Defense Program. Over the three years it operated, it grilled 1,798 witnesses, mounted 432 hearings, issued 51 reports and, by some reports, saved the U.S. up to $15 billion. One of the most successful investigative panels in Congress' history, its success helped vault Truman to the vice presidency in 1944.