You know, stories like this leave me angry and frustrated:
“Development costs for the Pentagon’s major weapons systems soared last year, helping drive overruns that are “staggering,” the Government Accountability Office said in a report released yesterday.
The costs to research and develop fighter jets and other programs have been rising steadily. Last year, they were 42 percent over initial estimates. That compares with 27 percent in 2000, when the cost of the portfolio of programs was half of what it is today…
The figures reflect a weapons development and procurement system that is woefully broken, analysts say, and one that President Obama has vowed to begin to correct.
(GAO analyst Michael J. Sullivan said that) because most major weapons systems involve costly advanced technologies and investments in factories and workers, and have no commercial market, contractors typically demand that the government cover their risk by reimbursing them for unanticipated costs in “cost-plus” contracts….
The report said that the cost estimates for 10 of the Pentagon’s 96 largest weapons programs have grown by 32 percent, rising to $177 billion. That was a primary factor behind decisions by the military to reduce weapons purchases last year by almost a third, the GAO said.”
The Pentagon is, by almost any measure, the least efficient and probably most corrupt purchasing agent in the federal government. We tolerate mistakes, incompetence and conflicts of interest in the Defense Department that would get people put in jail in other agencies. And why?
Because in part, those who point out the Pentagon’s obvious problems are often dismissed as anti-defense, anti-military and unpatriotic. Well, baloney, or words to that effect. Twenty billion dollars wasted on an overpriced system that doesn’t work is $20 billion that we can’t spend on a system that could save actually American lives. It makes us weaker, economically as well as militarily.
For example, the F-22 fighter being built up the street in Marietta is an exquisitely beautiful piece of military overengineering, and it is sucking up billions that could otherwise produce “more bang for the buck.” It’s not unpatriotic to point that out — Defense Secretary Robert Gates may do so himself in the next few weeks, as part of a larger effort to remake military contracting. What’s unpatriotic is defending a wasteful defense program solely because it means jobs for the local economy.
By the way, according to the GAO, the cost of the F-22 has jumped 62.7 percent over its initial 2003 budget and is running 33 months behind its promised timeline.