I believe in a strong military, however giving vast sums of money to contractors that do not deliver what is promised in volume or in numbers has to stop.
These overrun costs equal almost one third of a trillion dollars.
$296 Billion in Overruns in U.S. Weapons Programs
By CHRISTOPHER DREW
Published: March 30, 2009
Nearly 70 percent of the Pentagon’s 96 largest weapons programs were over budget last year, for a combined total of $296 billion more than the original estimates, a Congressional auditing agency reported Monday.
The findings, compiled by the Government Accountability Office, seemed likely to add to the pressure on officials to make sizable cuts in the most troubled programs as they work out the details of a proposed $664 billion defense budget for fiscal 2010.
President Obama has said that the “days of giving defense contractors a blank check are over.” Pentagon officials have said they will finish putting together a list of proposed cuts in April.
In a letter to Congress, Gene L. Dodaro, the acting comptroller general for the G.A.O., an auditing agency, said that while there had been modest improvements in the last year, the Pentagon’s management of the contracts remained poor, and cost overruns were “still staggering.”
The accountability office reported that the programs were behind schedule by an average of 22 months, up from 21 months last year and 18 months in 2003.
The office had previously said that the cost of a similar portfolio of programs had risen by $295 billion through 2007, or $301 billion when adjusted for inflation.
In the report released on Monday, the G.A.O. said the Pentagon often had to reduce the number of planes and ships it could buy.
The report said, for instance, that the cost of 10 of the largest weapons systems was running 32 percent higher than projected, and the quantities that could be purchased had been cut.
Some programs, like the Air Force’s F-22 fighter jet and the Army’s Future Combat System, are among the systems that Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates has said he is scrutinizing.
According to the G.A.O., the F-22, which was designed in the 1980s, was originally expected to cost $88 billion in 2009 dollars for 648 planes. The program is now expected to cost $73.7 billion for the 184 planes.
Some military analysts say they believe that Mr. Gates will recommend canceling the plane, or buying fewer planes than the Air Force wants.
But the G.A.O. also said the Pentagon had done a better job of managing some newer programs.
In a response to the office, John J. Young Jr., the Pentagon’s top acquisition official, said department officials had “instituted several major changes that are beginning to show results.”
Mr. Young also noted that in some cases, the cost growth was not a result of overruns but of program expansions. And in others, delays were ordered by top Pentagon officials or Congress as part of budgeting trade-offs.
Story link - http://www.nytimes.com/2009/03/31/bu...ense.html?_r=1