Organizing Notes

Bruce Gagnon is coordinator of the Global Network Against Weapons & Nuclear Power in Space. He offers his own reflections on organizing and the state of America's declining empire....

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Location: Bath, Maine, United States

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

MASSIVE SPACE COST OVERRUNS AT PENTAGON

by Martin Sieff
UPI Senior News Analyst
Washington (UPI) Jul 19, 2005

In testimony before the Strategic Forces Subcommittee of the House Committee on Armed Services delivered last week, Robert E. Levin, director of Acquisitions and Sourcing Management at the GAO, delivered a devastating critique of the Bush administration and the Pentagon's space acquisitions' record.

"The results are discouraging," he said. "Systems cost more and take much longer to acquire than promised when initially approved.

"Overall, we have found that DOD (the Department of Defense) has been unable to match resources (technology, time, money) to requirements before beginning individual programs, setting the stage for technical and other problems, which lead to cost and schedule increases," Levin said.

Many of the problems, Levin said, came from sloppiness on the part of DOD leaders or senior officials in defining what they specifically wanted their new space-based high-tech systems to do, or in being too visionary -- approving programs when the technology did not yet exist, or had not yet been developed sufficiently to ! assure the necessary reliable performance.

"Technologies are not mature enough (in some cases) to be included in product development," Levin said. "Cost estimates are unreliable -- largely because requirements have not been fully defined and because programs start with many unknowns about technologies."

Levin painted a picture of thousands of hardworking and dedicated individuals stymied by the complexities and cross-purposes of the bureaucratic structures in which they had to function.

"Factors that make it more difficult for DOD to achieve a match between resources and requirements for space acquisitions," he said "... include: a diverse array of organizations with competing interests; a desire to satisfy all requirements in a single step, regardless of the design or technology challenge; and a tendency for acquisition programs to take on technology development that should occur within the S & T (science and technolo! gy) environment."

Also, he said, "DOD starts more programs than it can afford in the long run, forcing programs to underestimate costs and over promise capability."

"As a result," he said, "there is pressure to suppress bad news about programs, which could endanger funding and support, as well as to skip testing because of its high cost."

Levin acknowledged that the Department of Defense "has recently revised its space acquisition policy, in part to attain more knowledge about technologies before beginning an acquisition program."

"However," he continued, "we remain concerned that this policy still allows programs to begin before demonstrating technologies in an operational or simulated environment."

The results of these shortcomings have cost billions of dollars and seriously reduced the space capabilities that the Department of Defense has been able to deliver, Levin said.

"For decades, space acquisition programs have been encountering large cost and increases and schedule delays," he said," As a result, DOD has been unable to deliver capabilities as promised.

"This year alone," Levin said, "... costs have continued to climb on the Space-Based Infrared System High (SBIRS-High) program ... pushing DOD's investment in this critical missile warning system to over $9.9 billion from the initial $3.9 billion made nine years ago."

Also, he said, "the National Polar-orbiting Operational Environmental Satellite System has been restructured and is facing cost increases and schedule delays."

Even the simplest and most straightforward part of the military space program -- launching satellites into space on reliable, cost-effective rockets -- is becoming more difficult and vastly more expensive, Levin warned.

"Unit cost increases for launch vehicles have now increased! by 81 percent since 2002 due to erroneous assumptions about the commercial launch market upon which the program's business case was based," he said.

In the case of many programs, Levin said, there would be no improvement in sight and cost over-runs would continue for many years.

"DOD originally planned to complete expenditures for SBIRS-High in fiscal year 2005, for example, but currently plans to spend about $3.4 billion in fiscal years 2007 through 2013," he said.

Levin and his GAO analysts were not alone in their indictment.

Pedro "Pete" Rustan, director of Advanced Systems and Technology at the National Reconnaissance Office, told a congressional subcommittee, "I think space acquisitions procedures are the biggest challenge facing our space systems today. "We must do things differently."

"Unless decisive actions are taken," Rustan said, "I think we will continue to spend lar! ge amounts of money without returning a commensurate capability to our stakeholders."

Rep. Terry Everett, R-Ala, the subcommittee chairman who called the hearing, made clear he took the criticisms seriously. "Acquisition and management practices, as well as industry standards and quality control must be vastly improved," he said in his opening statement.

7 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey, Bruce, do you like stealing other people's creative property? Grab your dictionary and look up the word C-O-P-Y-R-G-H-T.

jim O
www.jamesoberg.com

7/20/05, 4:50 PM  
Blogger Vic Jacobs said...

And your point in posting this article is what, exactly? Anything the government does, it ends up paying more than was planned and getting less than was expected. Just look at entitlement programs.

Blog Tip of the Day: it helps to add a comment or two of your own to articles quoted from elsewhere, so that your readers know what it is you're trying to say by posting it.

And let's make it a two-fer: as JimO points out, you shouldn't quote articles from other sources in their entirety. I understand that cutting-edge radical peace warriors speaking truth to power probably have little concern for the mechanism of capitalist oppression and fascistic free-speech shackling The Man calls "copyright law", but the holders of the copyrights you infringe might not be as enlightened as you about such things. Think of how you'd feel if someone started printing whole chapters from your book on their weblog.

7/20/05, 9:43 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Think of how you'd feel if someone started printing whole chapters from your book on their weblog."

I imagine he would feel well-deserved astonishment....

-- JimO

sorry for the typo on
c-o-p-y-r-i-g-h-t, BTW.

7/21/05, 10:15 AM  
Blogger Brian Dunbar said...

Something that does astonish me is that these people mock and deride the system expect to make a living from it. Bruce could release his book on line, free download but choose to charge for it.

Not that I think this is bad - hey we all need to make a living - but if he truly wanted to _help_ why charge for the book and perpetuate the system?

7/21/05, 11:13 AM  
Blogger Alex said...

I look forward to meeting you in Portland, Oregon on July 29th Bruce. See you there! Keep up the good work!!!

7/27/05, 1:10 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Cost overruns at the Pentagon?

Too f--ing bad. Who gives a damn?

On the one hand you have the All-American goons who will ignore or defend these cost overruns. On the other hand, you have the limp-wristed Liberal "antiwar activists" like Bruce Gagnon who love to whine about it.

Both sides are wrong.

The more money that the American Empire wastes, the safer the rest of the world will be.

Hopefully, the United Snakes of America will spend itself into bankruptcy and the rest of us can live in peace.

7/28/05, 12:42 AM  
Blogger Vic Jacobs said...

Let me guess -- you're a Canadian, aren't you?

If you get your wish, I hope you enjoy the global civil war that will result as everyone rushes to fill the power vacuum. "Live in peace"? Not likely, indeed least likely to happen in your scenario. And don't even get me started on the global economic implications of your dream future.

7/28/05, 8:37 AM  

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