Exploding Weapons Costs

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Exploding Weapons Costs

From today's New York Times:
Cost overruns have long been a Pentagon staple. But what has alarmed government oversight agencies and Pentagon observers ... is the magnitude of the spending increases. Projects are as much as 50 percent over budget and up to four years late in delivery.

“We have been living in a rich man’s world for the last five years,” said Jacques Gansler, Pentagon under secretary for acquisition from 1997 to 2001 and vice president for research at the University of Maryland. “The defense budget has been growing so rapidly that we are less likely to put in many cost-sensitive reforms.”

In recent Congressional hearings and (GAO) reports ... the Pentagon has been portrayed as so mired in bureaucracy and so enamored of the latest high-tech gadgetry that multi-billion-dollar weapon systems are running years behind in development and are dangerously over budget.

The Pentagon reported last April, in response to questions from lawmakers, that 36 of its major next-generation weapon systems are over budget, some by as much as 50 percent.

The G.A.O. estimated that cost overruns on 23 weapon systems it studied in April came to $23 billion. In addition, there were delays of at least a year in delivering these weapons, with some programs running as much as four years late, like the Army’s $130 billion Future Combat Systems to provide soldiers new computerized ground equipment.
In Washington, nothing gets a pass like the Pentagon budget. Given that we are engaged in an ongoing "war against terror," it's all too easy for members of Congress to feel steamrolled into voting for military-related appropriations without asking any questions.

So I seriously doubt that the government will actually change its ways and start holding defense contractors accountability for delivering weapons and equipment late -- and delivering them at costs many times above their original estimates.

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