Pentagon Ignores the “Printer Ink” Syndrome in Weapons Spending

Thursday, February 16, 2012
F-35 Joint Strike Fighter
The cost of owning a printer for a home computer rests as much in the amount spent on ink cartridges as it does on the purchase price of the printer itself. The same can be said of billion-dollar weapons systems purchased by the Department of Defense.
Investing in the latest type of fighter jet or warship can’t be analyzed by only reviewing the sticker price when it comes to buying it. If Pentagon planners want to be prudent about their big-ticket items, they should inform lawmakers—who have to approve the defense budget—about the long-term costs, such as maintenance and care, of adding new components to the U.S. arsenal.
But the reality is that the Pentagon doesn’t operate this way, says the Government Accountability Office (GAO). Oftentimes, defense officials ignore or misstate maintenance and repair expenses when informing Congress about their wish list. Of the 84 programs analyzed by the GAO, 42% did not give a source for their estimated operating and service expenses and 10 of the programs didn’t bother to submit the operating costs at all. This lax accounting has resulted in obscuring about 70% of the actual cost of new armaments, according to the GAO.
-Noel Brinkerhoff
To Learn More:

One Quarter of All Federal Contracts Go to Only 10 Companies (by David Wallechinsky, AllGov) 


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