McCain Estimates $300 Billion Was Misspent Over Decade in Army Acquisition
By Frank Oliveri, CQ Staff
The top defense policy Republican in the Senate expressed concern Thursday about the Army’s notoriously inefficient acquisition system that he says has wasted more than $300 billion over the past decade.
Sen. John McCain of Arizona, ranking Republican on the Armed Services panel, said in a time of declining resources and changing missions, the Army can no longer be ineffective in developing the weapons of the future.
“As you finalize equipping and modernization strategies, I urge you to look carefully at recent history,” McCain said. “Over the last decade the Army embarked on a series of developmental programs and because of unrealistic requirements, unanticipated costs or poor contracting strategy, had to be descoped, rebaselined or cancelled outright. Our estimates are around $300 billion were spent that never became operational equipment.”
The Army can ill afford another decade like that.
The deficit-reduction law (PL 112-25) required the military to find cuts of about $490 billion from planned spending over the next 10 years, and a potential sequester could force savings of almost $500 billion more. The Army’s share of sequester could be as high as $184 billion, according to Gen. Raymond T. Odierno, the Army chief of staff. These savings have resulted in a plan that would reduce the end strength of the active Army by 72,000 troops.
The budget pressure also led to the termination and reorganization of a host of weapons acquisitions and narrowed the Army’s wish list of procurements to three key areas: communications and network development; a Ground Combat Vehicle to replace the Bradley Fighting Vehicle; and the Joint Light Tactical Vehicle to replace the Humvee.
Army Secretary John M. McHugh said the Army has initiated a significant reform of the way it develops and acquires products and weapons.
“As a part of this initiative, we have taken steps toward improvement through a series of capability portfolio reviews,” McHugh said. “These platforms serve to revalidate, modify or terminate programs based on the Army’s need and affordability of the program.”
He said the service also has taken steps to fix an “inefficient procurement system that too often wastes precious resources and fails to provide needed systems in a timely manner.”
After a comprehensive Army review of its acquisition system, McHugh said he hopes to grow the acquisition workforce within the Army to avoid falling back into bad habits.
He said acquisition overhaul in recent years has played a key role in helping the Army take a closer look at how it conducts business.
“The reason I asked for this top to bottom review of our acquisition processes were the challenges resulting from the legislation that you and others have had so much impact upon,” said McHugh, who served as a House lawmaker until September 2009 and had a hand in acquisition overhaul legislation (PL 111-23) initiated by the Senate panel. “It provided us a blueprint that, frankly, as you read it is just common sense. If you had to write a primer of what not to do in major acquisition programs you probably go to some major Army initiatives in recent years.”
Panel Chairman Carl Levin, D-Mich., lauded the Army’s efforts to right its acquisition program. He said the Army’s fiscal 2013 budget request protects the Army’s priorities for development and fielding of a tactical communications and data network, development of a new Ground Combat Vehicle and the Joint Light Tactical Vehicle, as well as expanding the helicopter force.
“But the Army has restructured, slowed, cut or cancelled, most of its ground vehicle programs with significant risk implications for the health of the military vehicles industrial base,” Levin said.
He warned that these risks will require close management.
Source: CQ Today Online News