GAO: Nearly 100 Pentagon Programs Over Budget

Team Infidel

Forum Spin Doctor
April 5, 2008
Lou Dobbs This Week (CNN), 7:00 PM
KITTY PILGRIM: Well, away from the campaign trail, the battle is escalating over the outsourcing of our defense and national security. The General Accountability Office is investigating the Pentagon's decision to buy tanker planes from Europe, and not this country.
Now, many lawmakers are furious that the Pentagon is prepared to spend as much as $40 billion on foreign aircraft. Another European product is a prime example of out of control spending at the Pentagon. Many U.S. weapons are also massively overbudget. The General Accountability Office says, almost 100 military programs are costing more than expected.
Jamie McIntyre reports from Pentagon. Jamie?
JAMIE MCINTYRE, CNN SR. PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Kitty, you would think that the Pentagon has learned a thing or two about not paying too much for weapons but from the same folks who brought you the $400 hammer and $600 toilet seat, comes the nearly $300 billion cost overrun.
(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) MCINTYRE: The new Marine One helicopter is a textbook example of why nearly everything that the Pentagon buys costs way more than it's supposed to. Back in 2005, the Navy agreed to buy 28 basic helicopters to carry the president around for $6 billion.
That was before the White House decided that the president wouldn't be fully protected unless the chopper got a few upgrades so it could fly 350 miles without refueling, evade radar and missile attacks, and even withstand the electromagnetic pulse generated by a nuclear blast.
$6 billion ballooned to $11 billion and the whole deal is now on hold while the Pentagon figures out what to do about the fact that each Marine One helicopter will cost $400 million. That's more than Air Force One which you may recall is a Boeing 747 jumbo jet.
TOM SCHATZ, CITIZENS AGAINST GOVT. WASTE: They just really can't follow exactly what they want or plan that far ahead, because these are unproven technologies. Nothing wrong with the ambition, but there is certainly something wrong with the process.
MCINTYRE: And Marine One isn't even the worst offender.
Government Accountability Office reports cites 95 Pentagon programs that are over budget by a total of $295 billion. Back before September 11th, the Pentagon was buying 75 major weapon systems totaling $795 billion. Today's count is 95 projects totaling the whooping $1.6 trillion.
The GAO found that the Pentagon consistently underestimates what things will cost. Take the new Joint Strike Fighter, $97 million a pop. That's 36 percent over budget.
The Navy's new coastal combat ship designed for shallow water, $472 million apiece. That's 100 percent over budget. Even updating the workhorse C-130 cargo plane is a budget buster. New avionics is up $2 billion, up 323 percent. (END VIDEOTAPE)
MCINTYRE: So, why can't the Pentagon get realistic cost estimates and then hold the defense contractors to them? Well, the GAO says it's because the military keeps changing its mind, often adding new technology requirements that result in expensive, gold-plated weapons that take longer to develop and longer to field. Kitty?