« Does the Federal Government Have Performance Anxiety? | Main | Afternoon Plume: Did the GSA Botch a Public Relations Contract? »

Mar 01, 2011



I would ask them straight out, naturally. The way I would put it is:

Ever since we started routinely adding a profit margin to the defense contractor's reimbursement on development costs, development periods and costs have increased substantially. In the case of fighter jets, the development period has gone from a few years to several decades and costs are through the roof. Clearly the longer the development period lasts and the more it costs, the more profit the contractor makes, which is at odds with how we want the contractor to perform. Seldom are there any permanent award fee penalties. Even cost over runs are fixed through frequent contract renegotiations such that rarely is a contractor reimbursed for any development costs they don’t receive a profit on. So why do we continue to pay contractors more to drag out the time and escalate costs for development, and isn't it time we reconsidered the cost-plus-award-fee approach to buying weapons?

I'm sure you could figure out a better way to word it, but this is what I see as the heart of the problem we are having with defense procurement. Things are so out of hand that even if we don't cut our defense spending and it continues at greater than Cold War levels, our military strength will dwindle with every new program, and the same cannot be said of the militaries of other nations with whom we might come in conflict. How can our politicians continue to turn a blind eye to the damage that is being done to our country by these procurement policies?

Bryan Rahija

Thank you all for the comments. Dfens -- are there any particular questions you would ask defense wonks or Pentagon acquisition personnel? We may be doing more interviews like this in the future.


POGO: Is there a particular structural reform that would help the Pentagon grapple with problems related to weapons acquisitions? Or is it simply a case of the Pentagon not adhering to its own guidelines?

Dfens: Hell yes! They could stop paying these contractors more money if they screw us over and drag out weapons development and instead pay them more if they provide us good weapons on time and on budget.

I suppose I cannot fault POGO's Mr. Rahija. He asked the right question. It is unfortunate that the military industrial complex is so complete in its control of inside the beltway thinking that it never even occurs to these people that the very method they use to procure goods and services is at the heart of the problem. They offer us nothing but platitudes and double speak instead of real answers.

Ray Bliss

Your recent Q.&A. on C-Span was one of the most enlighnting
as well as relevant informational discussions I have heard about the obscene costs associated with the U.S. military-industrial complex I have heard in 20 years; the most disturbing part is the citizens of the U.S.nor congress will
not attribute the extreme waste of federal resources this
complex is having on the economy of the U.S.:I contend that
if the money that is being spent on unnecessary military personnel and hardware was invested in the U.S. the state and federal budget deficits would be eliminated and billions of dollaars could be used to invigorate the U.S. economy! PLease continue to report military spending!!!

Henry J Cobb

I have a question for Pierre M. Sprey.

He writes: "$35 million fast missile-torpedo boats"

Does he mean the Pegasus class hydrofoils? That were like totally useless?

What we really need are $30 million Seahawks and mobile seaworthy platforms to operate them from. Which is the only part of the Littoral Combat Ship program that makes any sense.

The comments to this entry are closed.