Congress Wants Easier Way To Kill Weapons Systems

Two legislative warhorses have teamed up to try to do something that never gets done in Congress: making it easier to kill costly weapons systems.

Sen. Carl Levin, chairman of the Armed Services Committee, and ranking Republican John McCain , introduced the bill two days before the anticipated release today of the president's budget.

The Weapon Systems Acquisition Reform Act of 2009 would give Congress more authority to get rid of programs that have unchecked cost overruns and require more realistic cost estimates be made before new acquisitions are approved.

The bill also would push for more competition in the buying process and have companies build prototypes of weapons systems to make sure they work before they are produced.

Levin said in a statement that the bill would require the Pentagon to "take the steps needed to put major defense acquisition programs on a sound footing from the outset."

McCain said the government needs to "focus acquisition and procurement on emphasizing systems engineering, more effective upfront planning and management of technology risk, and growing the acquisition workforce to meet program objectives."

How the Pentagon buys weapons will fall in large part to Ashton B. Carter, a Harvard University physicist, who was nominated earlier this week to run the Defense Department's procurement office.

There's no way to know whether this bi-partisan push will get traction. There's also no way to know how Carter will run his shop. But stay tuned. There are signs that people are at least starting to look in detail at what is the government getting for its money.

-- Dana Hedgpeth

By Robert O'Harrow |  February 26, 2009; 7:08 AM ET Procurement Debate , defense
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Comments

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Here's a suggestion for the first system to go: Bush's missile defense boondoggle.

Posted by: dontblamemeivoted4gore | February 26, 2009 8:39 AM

missile defense is dumb, how many missiles have we been attacked with?

Posted by: foobar2 | February 26, 2009 3:17 PM

> missile defense is dumb, how many missiles have we been attacked with?

I guess that means that missile defense is working.

Posted by: rksii | February 27, 2009 12:21 PM

RKSII,

Hmmm, if Missile Defense were working the way the neo-cons suggest, and you defend, it would mean that the North Koreans would have capitulated by now, and would have stopped making missiles, and selling them to others such as the Pakistanis, because missiles would be useless against the US.

Let's see now, how well is that working out? Aren't the North Koreans, just now, preparing to launch a larger missile that the CIA says can reach the Homeland?

Instead of the neo-con formula, (we won the Cold War by spending the Soviet Union into the ground on SDI), the equation works the other way around: The North Koreans know that by launching a $10 Million missile they can set off paroxysms of delight/dread in the Republican Right, and drive the neo-cons into gales and fits of national security arguments. And once that wind gets started it only makes us throw more good money after the $100 Billion bad we have already spent.

Not a shabby trade for the North Koreans, is it? A new $10 Million missile, and they have destroyed the US Treasury with senseless spending, and also destroyed the US space science industry, because all of the research & development money that should be put into innovative research for new satellites, is instead being spent on existing equipment at contractors that is at least 15 years old, and more like 25 years old. (Remember, it takes at least 15 years to get an acquisition program through the Pentagon - ditto for NASA - but Virgin Space has a rocket ship ready to go in less than five years.)

I'd say the North Koreans are winning this fight, and not the other way around. Let's quit before we fall any further behind.

Posted by: Morganto | February 27, 2009 3:40 PM

WEll "THE PENTAGON JUST LOST 220 000 Weapons..I hope WE ( TAXPAYER) DONOT have to Pay for the delivery....We should have a Warranty or return policy.ouf 60 days fro NOT recieving THE merchandise!..
Maybe It went to Mexico..NEW drugwar..check out the weapons serial numbers!
P.S DID "the PENTAGON" find the 1400 lost laptops (lost in 2006)?

Posted by: sigup | March 4, 2009 1:50 PM

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