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May 06, 2009

Senator Inhofe’s Amendment Improving Weapons Acquisition Unanimously Accepted by Senate

WASHINGTON, D.C.  – U.S. Senator Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), a senior member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, today introduced an amendment (S.Amdt.1044) to the Weapons Systems Acquisition Reform Act 2009 (S.454), which he has co-sponsored. His amendment was unanimously accepted by the Senate. Senator Inhofe’s amendment would require the Department of Defense (DoD) to report to Congress when an acquisition program is terminated due to ‘critical’ cost growth, a requirement that would assist in improving the DoD’s acquisition process by helping identify common causes of weapon systems program failures.   Senator Inhofe’s amendment to the bill will provide much needed and timely feedback on the reasons for cost overruns within the military’s major weapons programs.  It is critical for the public and the Congress to maintain oversight on the acquisition process to ensure responsible spending of taxpayer dollars. Senator Inhofe’s speech upon introduction, as prepared for delivery, is below:

Senator Inhofe’s Remarks (As Prepared for Delivery)

Mr. President, I would like call up Senate Amendment 1044.

The purpose of this amendment is to require a report to Congress when an acquisition program is terminated due to ‘critical’ cost growth.  Acquisition problems we have seen in the past are many and can be tied to several issues that the Senate Armed Services Committee and the Department of Defense (DoD) have been trying to work through.  Some of the issues we have been trying to tackle include growing back our acquisition force, providing realistic cost estimates, accurately defining and holding to the program requirements, and ensuring the right amount of oversight to improve the overall process while not slowing it down by adding additional layers of bureaucracy.
The purpose of Section 204 of this bill is to enhance the statutory requirements of Nunn-McCurdy by requiring major defense acquisition programs that experience critical cost growth, 25 percent from the current baseline or 50 percent from the original baseline, to be terminated unless the Secretary certifies that continuing the program is essential to national security and the program can be modified to proceed in a cost-effective manner.  Section 204 requires the Secretary to submit written certification if the program is not terminated that states the acquisition program is essential to national security, no alternatives meet the joint military requirement, new estimates are reasonable, and the management structure is adequate to manage and control program acquisition costs.

I concur with this certification process but noticed no similar requirement for the termination of an acquisition program, an area in which oversight is required and information critical as we continue to improve the acquisition process.  My amendment requires the Secretary of Defense to submit a written report explaining the reasons for terminating the program, the alternatives considered addressing any problems in the program, and the course of action the Department of Defense plans to pursue to meet continuing joint military requirements intended to be met by the program being cancelled.

This report will provide Congress with historical documentation of terminated, or failed, programs and why they were terminated.  This information could be used to make further changes to our acquisition process as well as identify common causes of program failures.
There is bipartisan agreement that the Department of Defense (DoD) acquisition process for weapons systems is broken. The Government Accountability Office (GAO) reported that DoD’s major defense acquisition programs are a combined $296 billion over budget.  There is wide consensus among defense analysts that DoD does not need new rules, they need to enforce existing rules. The legislation contained in this bill begins the process of improving the acquisition process.
I encourage my fellow Senators to support this important legislation.

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