Lockheed Martin Failing to Maintain Weapons Program, Audit Says
"Washington Watchdogs," a periodic feature of the Post's Investigations blog, looks at the findings of the federal government's official investigators.
Lockheed Martin, the world's largest defense contractor, has failed to properly plan for and control a multibillion weapons program, a leaked government audit shows.
The November 2007 Pentagon report, obtained by the Project on Government Accountability ahead of this morning's Senate Armed Services Committee hearing, says that Lockheed Martin's Fort Worth-based military aircraft division is not following appropriate oversight and industry guidelines for the company's F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, F-22 Raptor and F-16 programs.
The Defense Contract Management Agency found during an August review that the company's military aircraft division was found to be "non-compliant" in 19 of 32 industry guidelines, due in part to lack of planning. The report also deemed Lockheed Martin's attention to meeting certain guidelines "superficial at best."
The scathing report and today's Senate hearing comes after the April release of a 205-page report from the Government Accountability Office that said dozens of the Pentagon's biggest weapons systems, such as ships, aircraft and satellite projects, are billions of dollars over budget and years behind schedule.
That report found that the Pentagon has doubled the amount it has committed to new systems, from $790 billion in 2000 to $1.6 trillion last year.
The report found about $295 billion in cost overruns in 95 Department of Defense programs.
Sen. Carl Levin (D-Mich.) said during today's testimony that efforts to better gauge how much defense projects will cost have fallen "far, far short."
"These contractors and program offices have every reason to produce optimistic cost estimates and unrealistic performance expectations, because programs that promise revolutionary change and project lower costs are more likely to be approved and funded by senior administration officials and by Congress," Levin said.
John J. Young, the newly minted under secretary of Defense for acquisition, technology and logistics, defended Defense planning and oversight, saying that cost overruns have not sent government defense contracting "on a downward spiral," but rather helped improve existing programs while making for a "catchy headline in the newspapers."
"Has there been cost growth in some DoD programs? Yes, and I am not here to condone it," Young said. "Indeed, I am seeking to strictly limit cost growth."
Katherine V. Schinasi, managing director of GAO's acquisition and sourcing management program, cited numbers that show investment in weapons acquisition programs is at its highest level in two decades and that most programs are delayed, on average, by about two years.
"It is clear that DoD's implied definition of success is to attract funds for new programs and to keep funds for ongoing programs, no matter what the impact," said Schinasi, who referred to the environment surrounding some defense programs as a "conspiracy of hope."
Please email us to report offensive comments.
Posted by: Bernard Tabarini | June 5, 2008 9:07 AM