Defense Dept.’s Weapons Programs Faulted
GAO Report Cites Cost Overruns, Years-Long Delays in Acquisitions
By Dana Hedgpeth
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, February 2, 2008; D01
The Defense Department
‘s major weapons programs have suffered cost overruns in the billions of dollars, years-long delays and quality shortfalls because of poor acquisition practices by the department, according to a report released yesterday by the Government Accountability Office
The GAO warned that the cost of designing and developing weapons systems could “continue to exceed estimates by billions of dollars” if the Defense Department doesn’t improve its acquisition practices.
The report, which focused on 11 troubled weapons programs, said contractors had “poor practices” for systems engineering and relied on “immature designs, inadequate testing, defective parts and inadequate manufacturing controls.”
The report said the Defense Department did not provide effective oversight as projects were being developed, and often entered into weapons-development contracts before engineering of the project had been analyzed, driving up costs.
In addition, the report said, the Pentagon
often pays the cost of the contractors’ mistakes, providing the companies with little incentive to perform higher-quality work. “Risk,” the report said, “is not borne by the prime contractor, but by DOD.
23,000 employees bumping into each other in the hallways and no one to provide effective oversight.
One can only presume that 22,000 of those employees are too busy kissing their bosses collective asses to keep an eye out for what Lockheed Martin is up to. With only the remaining thousand to make sure there’s toilet-paper in the johns and that waste paper baskets are being emptied, cost overruns are almost assured.
One of the reasons I don’t worry all that much about our government surveilling what we do, when we do it and who we do it with is best illustrated by the Pentagon. Get 22,000 people together in one building and ‘none of the above‘ becomes the accountable party.
Is that General Dynamics’ Expeditionary Fighting Vehicle being primarily overseen by the Army, Navy or the Marine Corps?
None of the above.
Northrop Grumman‘s LPD 17 ship had faulty welds on piping in its hydraulics. “Had the problem not been discovered,” the report said, “and weld failure had occurred, the crew and the ship could have been endangered.” The ship’s manufacturing problems added $846 million to the project’s cost and delayed it by three years, according to the report.
And we paid these guys almost an extra billion to repair their own shoddy work? No wonder the Japanese are kicking our manufacturing butt.
But that’s an Navy problem, right? Or is the primary responsibility in the logistical oversight and weld efficiency and endurance-testing department? It could belong to procurement, huh? Huh? Look at me. Huh?
None of the above.
Where’s that office? Elevator bank 11-A? 3rd floor southwest? Just down the hall from Lt. Col. Edwards’ support and maintenance efficiency regulation command and associated programs directory listing substation for Eastern Asia procurement establishment procedures?
None of the above.
Which is why Donald Rumsfeld mused so repeatedly about known unknowns and the far more illusive unknown unknowns.
If you want a program to work, you appoint a virtual dictator to run it and be accountable–then you let him dictate and account. Decentralization is the watchword, when ‘watching‘ is no longer working as a watchword.
“Lockheed Martin’s F-22A Raptor fighter plane program is being run by Joe Jones. Joe’s a tough son-of-a-bitch, but he’s up in room 203.”
In your dreams.
A spokesman for Lockheed Martin said that “the issues identified by the GAO are a snapshot in time. They go back to 2005 and 2006, and all of the issues have been resolved.”
And then he went to lunch, charged the lunch to the Raptor program and took the rest of the week off.