Winslow Wheeler: GAO’s June 14 F-35 Report Understates Its Own Findings; Uses Misdirecting DOD Criteria
Phi Beta Iota: Until governments commit to true-cost economics (and of course to telling the truth and being fully transparent) they will not achieve full legitmacy and efficacy in serving the public interest. The work of one man, Winslow Wheeler, should shame all governments by example, but especially the US Government, where no fraud, waste, or abuse is neglected as long as Members of Congress get their 5% kick-back.
On June 14 — Flag Day, of all days — the Government Accountability Office released a new oversight report on the F-35: Joint Strike Fighter: DOD Actions Needed to Further Enhance Restructuring and Address Affordability Risks. As usual, it contained some important information on growing costs and other problems. Also as usual, the press covered the new report, albeit a bit sparsely.
Fresh bad news on the F-35 has apparently become so routine that the fundamental problems in the program are plowed right over. One gets the impression, especially from GAO’s own title to its report, that we should expect the bad news, make some minor adjustments, and then move on. But a deeper dive into the report offers more profound, and disturbing, bottom line.
Notorious for burying its more important findings in the body of a report — I know; I worked there for nearly a decade – GAO understates its own results on acquisition cost growth in its one-page summary, which—sadly—is probably what most read to get what they think is the bottom line.
In that one-page summary, GAO states the F-35 program now projects “costs of $395.7 billion, an increase of $117.2 billion (42 percent) from the prior 2007 baseline.” The much more complete story is in this table from the report:
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The F-35 should now be officially called “unaffordable and simply unacceptable.” All that is lacking is a management that will accept — and act— on that finding.
Phi Beta Iota: INTEGRITY is the missing ingredient across all eight communities of information and intelligence.