DoD weapons procurement broken, Auditor warns | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, June 07, 2008 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:00 AM, June 07, 2008

DoD weapons procurement broken, Auditor warns

The Defense Department's procurement system is failing to deliver U.S. troops the weapons they need while running up nearly $300 billion in cost overruns, a government auditor warned June 3.
Katherine Schinas of the Government Accountability Office told lawmakers the procurement system is broken.
"First, it has failed the war-fighter because it is delivering capability late and in fewer quantities than planned, or both," she told the Senate Armed Services Committee. "And many times when equipment is delivered to the field it is not what's needed for the current operations," she said.
The GAO, a congressional audit agency, last month reported that cost overruns of major U.S. weapons programs grew to $295 billion last year, 26 percent over initial cost estimates for 72 major weapons programs.
The Defense Department expects to invest about $900 billion over the next five years on development and procurement, the report said.
"There is cost growth coming that we don't yet know about," Schinas said. "If you look at the period 1992-2007, the cost needed to complete DoD's portfolio [of weapons programs] has increased over 100 percent, but the funding provided to do so increased only 57 percent. So the bow wave is going to continue.
John Young, Undersecretary of Defense for acquisition, acknowledged many of the problems but said the Pentagon is striving to change the procurement culture.
Still, he said, the Defense Department's acquisition work force has gotten smaller, even though procurement is up 34 percent since 2001 and research and development budgets are up 70 percent.
Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich., the committee chairman, translated the $295 billion in cost overruns into weapons that the Pentagon might otherwise have been able to buy.
He said it was equivalent to two new aircraft carriers, eight attack submarines, 500 V-22 Ospreys, 500 Joint Strike Fighters, 10,000 mine-resistant armored vehicles and the Army's entire $130 billion Future Combat System program.
Schinas gave some examples of procurement breakdowns.
"The Army is spending billions of dollars that it did not plan to on legacy radio because its developments efforts for a new radio have gotten so bogged down," she said.
"The Navy is apt to [have] a net loss in its carrier fleet capacity because it has been delayed in developing a new carrier beyond the point where it will have to start retiring current carriers. The Marines will have to wait five years to get half the quantity of expeditionary vehicles that it has planned."
Schinas said part of the problem was that military requirements for weapons were "based on wants, not needs." She said that had been exacerbated by the Pentagon's move away from matching requirements to threats early in the current administration.
But she added that requirements set by the military departments "reflect parochial interests rather than current war-fighter needs."
Moreover, the Pentagon increasingly relies on the defence industry for solutions to its requirements - an industry that has shrunk to a handful of companies.
"Some believe that more money is the answer. But the DoD has already tried spending more money. Investment in weapon acquisition programs is now almost at the highest level in two decades, and the outcomes have only gotten worse," she said.

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