GAO: Sequester Work-arounds May Bring Added Costs

The Defense Department largely dealt with the spending cuts imposed by budget sequestration through various short-term work-arounds, such as using rainy-day funds and delaying programs, found Government Accountability Office auditors. As a result, the services were able to protect key programs, but in several instances, this strategy will result in increased costs over the next few years, according to GAO’s newly released report on this topic, dated Nov. 7. For example, the F-35 program dealt with its reduced budget by delaying software development, states the report. Software development has historically been an area of cost growth for the program. Further, cuts to the Air Force’s Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle program will result in deferred propulsion studies and travel that could reduce program officials’ ability to respond to unanticipated technical issues, states the report. Also, the sequester caused the F-22 program to delay the start of a planned retrofit for the stealth fighter by one year, but the Air Force will eventually have to reassign funds for this work since the retrofit is still needed, states the report.