Funding manipulations

cause delays, cost woes

Editor, Times-Dispatch:

Regarding the recent Letter to the Editor, “Navy Carrier Debacle Frustrates Taxpayer,”  I empathize with the writer’s angst over the newest generation aircraft carrier in 40 years, the USS Gerald R. Ford, and its high-tech systems troubles as well as its cost overruns. As a taxpayer and retired U.S. Air Force officer who spent close to 12 of his 20 active-duty years involved in the mission analysis, design, development, procurement budgeting, and test and evaluation of a similar next-generation weapons system, I suggest that the finger of blame also be pointed at the U.S. Congress rather than just the presumed incompetence of the U.S. Navy.

I think U.S. Secretary of the Navy Richard Spencer’s comment that the writer alludes to is spot on. Congress appropriates presumed full funding based upon a comprehensive five-year plan produced by the Pentagon that, if approved, allegedly is  Congress’ commitment to fund five continuous years of a proposed military systems development. The reason for the five-year plan is that both the major systems contractor and its subcontractors must have multi-year funding in order to hire a labor force, contract for materials and  sub-systems acquisitions, etc.

Full funding is anticipated; often it is ladled out by Congress when development progression isn’t up to speed or some politicians resist full funding if their states do not have a finger in the money pie. As funding is manipulated by Congress over every budget year, this can lead to developmental cutbacks and crucial sub-systems integration tests delays beyond a pre-determined design freeze. These instances are just a few recollections of what happens when Congress diddles with funding impacting prior contractor financial commitments that are no longer viable. You can describe all of the above as "cost overruns.”

C.C. Buckenmaier Jr.

Glen Allen.

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