Room for Improvement

The Defense Department is missing key information needed to “analyze, manage, and reduce” operating and support costs of major weapon systems, according to the Government Accountability Office. “At a time when the nation faces fiscal challenges and defense budgets may become tighter, the lack of this key information hinders sound weapon-system program management and decision-making in an area of high costs to the federal government,” writes GAO in a newly issued report. The GAO analyzed seven aviation weapon systems, including the Air Force’s F-22, B-1B, and F-15E, from June 2009 to July 2010. However, DOD could only provide o&s cost estimates for two of the seven systems, including the F-22. The omission of such data is not inconsequential. A case in point: when the Air Force updated its lifecycle cost estimate in 2009 for the F-22, it found a 47-percent ($19 billion) increase in o&s costs compared to the previous estimate in 2005, said GAO.