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Pentagon weapons systems plagued with cost overruns, waste

360863_F-35 jets

The costs of the Pentagon’s major weapons systems have risen nearly half a trillion dollars over their initial estimation, according to a new report.

The report by the Government Accountability Office has also found that the Pentagon’s 80 programs have average schedule delays of more than two years.

The GAO report was presented during a congressional hearing Wednesday in which both Republican and Democratic senators criticized the continued cost overruns, waste of money and recourses, high rate of contract cancelations and lack of accountability in the weapons systems, according to The Washington Post..

Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) listed a series of failed programs, including the fleet of presidential helicopters, saying they were examples of “really unacceptable cost overruns we’ve seen in the past, and apparently a failure to get a lot of it still under control.”

For decades, Congress and the Pentagon have struggled, with little success, to create a more efficient system for buying weapons. The GAO noted it often reported “on the same kinds of problems today that we did over 20 years ago.”

The renewed efforts to enhance the weapons systems come at a time when defense budgets are in decline, giving added urgency to the need for improvement.

“We are going to have flat defense budgets as far as the eye can see, and the problems we’re trying to deal with around the world are not flat,” Rep. Mac Thornberry (R-Tex.), told the Post. “So the only way to reconcile those two trends is to try to get more defense value out of the money we spend.”

Frank Kendall III, the undersecretary of defense for acquisition, technology and logistics, said that during his 40 years working in procurement, “I’ve seen any number of attempts to improve defense acquisition. My view is many of the things we have tried have had little discernible impact.”

The GAO report cited the high rate of personnel turnover as an acute problem plaguing the weapons systems. The F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, the most expensive weapons program in the Pentagon’s history, has had six program managers since 2001.

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